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The relationship between adult attachment and personality : including normal personality and personality disorder Clark, Megan Disa


Despite the growing popularity of attachment theory, there has been little research examining how attachment fits with the more established construct of personality. An understanding of the relationship between attachment and personality is important, both for guiding future theory and research, and for providing insight into the etiology and treatment of interpersonal difficulties. This present study is a comprehensive examination of the relationship between adult attachment and a broad range of personality dimensions, including both normal personality and the extremes of personality characterized by personality disorder. A total of 213 adult volunteers from the community, aged 16-79 years (mean age = 31.4, SD =12.5) completed three self-report questionnaires: the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ) a dimensional assessment of attachment styles; the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire - Revised (EPQ-R), assessing normal personality dimensions; and the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology - Differential Questionnaire (DAPP-DQ), assessing dimensions of personality disorder. Principal components analysis indicated that attachment, normal personality, and personality disorder share two underlying factors in common, one representing Emotional Distress, and one representing Intimacy Issues. These factors correspond to the dimensions of Anxiety and Avoidance theorized to underlie attachment. Regression analyses revealed that personality shares a moderate to modest proportion of variance with attachment, and that each attachment style is related to a unique pattern of personality and personality disorder dimensions. These patterns of predictor variables provide profiles of each attachment style that are theoretically supportable. Finally, a set of multiple regression analyses, using the four factors derived from the intercorrelations of the personality and personality disorder dimensions as predictors, provided further support for the theoretical dimensions of Anxiety and Avoidance underlying both attachment and personality. A more complete picture of the relationship between attachment and personality resulting from this study will help guide nature theory and research, as well as provide clinicians with insight into the etiology and treatment of personality disorders associated with interpersonal difficulties.

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