A systematic review of adult attachment and social anxiety

Manning, R.P.C. and Dickson, J.M. and Palmier-Claus, J. and Cunliffe, A. and Taylor, P.J. (2017) A systematic review of adult attachment and social anxiety. Journal of Affective Disorders, 211. pp. 44-59. ISSN 0165-0327

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Background Attachment has been implicated in the development of social anxiety. Our aim was to synthesise the extant literature exploring the role of adult attachment in these disorders. Method Search terms relating to social anxiety and attachment were entered into MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Web of Science. Risk of bias of included studies was assessed using and adapted version of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality assessment tool. Eligible studies employed validated social anxiety and attachment assessments in adult clinical and analogue samples. The review included cross sectional, interventional and longitudinal research. Results Of the 30 identified studies, 28 showed a positive association between attachment insecurity and social anxiety. This association was particularly strong when considering attachment anxiety. Cognitive variables and evolutionary behaviours were identified as potential mediators, concordant with psychological theory. Limitations Due to a lack of longitudinal research, the direction of effect between attachment and social anxiety variables could not be inferred. There was substantial heterogeneity in the way that attachment was conceptualised and assessed across studies. Conclusions The literature indicates that attachment style is associated with social anxiety. Clinicians may wish to consider attachment theory when working clinically with this population. In the future, it may be useful to target the processes that mediate the relationship between attachment and social anxiety.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Affective Disorders
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Affective Disorders. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Affective Disorders, 211, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.020
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? social anxietyattachmentreviewsocial phobiaadultsclinical psychologypsychiatry and mental health ??
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Deposited On:
11 Mar 2019 12:15
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 11:30