Attachment, Coping, and Explanatory Style in Late Adolescence

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Using self-report data from 157 college students, we tested hypotheses regarding the relative importance of perceived security in early parental relationships vs. security in adult (nonparental) relationships for understanding respondents' coping dispositions and explanatory styles. In general, more secure attachments were positively related to support-seeking and active problem-solving coping styles and to females' but not males' tendency to explain hypothetical successes and failures in a positive or self-enhancing manner. Security of adult (nonparental) attachments had stronger associations with young women's coping strategies than did security of early attachment to parents, whereas the reverse was true for males—a finding we interpret in terms of girls' earlier development of emotional autonomy from parents and closer ties to friends. Security of early attachment to father appeared to have important implications for young men's willingness to turn to others for support.

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