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Attachment in the time of COVID-19: Insecure attachment orientations are associated with defiance of authorities’ guidelines during the pandemic

Authors
  • Gruneau Brulin, Joel
  • Shaver, Phillip R.
  • Mikulincer, Mario
  • Granqvist, Pehr
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Publisher
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2022
Volume
39
Issue
8
Pages
2528–2548
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/02654075221082602
PMCID: PMC8919108
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Articles
License
Unknown

Abstract

Previous research has linked people’s relational attachment orientations to emotional reactions and coping during crises, and to social trust and trust in societal institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis for which collective efforts, such as social distancing, are necessary to stop the spread of the virus. During previous pandemics, people high in trust have typically adhered to such efforts. In the present study, we investigated whether attachment orientations were related to people’s adherence to authorities’ guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. We also tested whether previous mediational findings—linking attachment-related avoidance to welfare state trust via social trust—would replicate. We used a web-based survey of 620 participants. Our findings showed that attachment-related anxiety was linked to low adherence to social distancing regulations. This finding was especially noteworthy because high attachment-anxious participants also experienced more negative emotions, yet negative emotions were generally linked to high adherence. Thus, people higher in attachment anxiety seem to have more difficulties in avoiding social situations despite heightened risk of catching and spreading the virus. In addition, attachment-related avoidance was negatively related to adherence and to welfare state trust, and its effects on welfare state trust were statistically mediated by low social trust.

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