Attachment Styles and Personal Growth following Romantic Breakups: The Mediating Roles of Distress, Rumination, and Tendency to Rebound Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The purpose of this research was to examine the associations of attachment anxiety and avoidance with personal growth following relationship dissolution, and to test breakup distress, rumination, and tendency to rebound with new partners as mediators of these associations. Study 1 (N = 411) and Study 2 (N = 465) measured attachment style, breakup distress, and personal growth; Study 2 additionally measured ruminative reflection, brooding, and proclivity to rebound with new partners. Structural equation modelling revealed in both studies that anxiety was indirectly associated with greater personal growth through heightened breakup distress, whereas avoidance was indirectly associated with lower personal growth through inhibited breakup distress. Study 2 further showed that the positive association of breakup distress with personal growth was accounted for by enhanced reflection and brooding, and that anxious individuals' greater personal growth was also explained by their proclivity to rebound. These findings suggest that anxious individuals' hyperactivated breakup distress may act as a catalyst for personal growth by promoting the cognitive processing of breakup-related thoughts and emotions, whereas avoidant individuals' deactivated distress may inhibit personal growth by suppressing this cognitive work.

publication date

  • 2013