Attachment and Social Support as Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress and Posttraumatic Growth

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Objective: The objective of this study was to examine how the situational characteristics of different types of social support (emotional and instrumental) and relational characteristics of anxious and avoidant adult attachment styles impacted on the recovery from a traumatic event and could lead to both posttraumatic stress (PTS) and posttraumatic growth (PTG). Method: A community sample of 100 participants (72 women and 28 men, who perceived that they had experienced trauma) completed a questionnaire measuring stressful life events, attachment dimensions, emotional and instrumental perceived social support, PTS, and PTG. Results: Whereas insecure attachment predicted higher levels of distress, the role of social support was more complex. For anxious attachment, both instrumental and emotional support negatively predicted distress, whereas for avoidant attachment, only emotional support negatively predicted distress. Contrary to expectations, although high average levels of PTG were evident in the sample, PTG was not related to attachment or social support. Conclusion: This study provides some groundwork for examining the role of attachment styles and their relationship with different types of perceived social support in regard to both negative and positive adaptations to trauma. In addition, the results suggest that PTG is a complex process and many factors may be involved in its development.

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