Affect Intolerance is Associated with Insecure Attachment and Reduced Self-Esteem in Adults
Despite the adaptive relevance of emotion, many individuals view their negative emotional experiences to be un-important, unnecessarily distressing and/or intolerable. Two studies were conducted to investigate whether such de-valuing “meta-emotional” views are associated with attachment insecurity, specifically anxious and avoidant attachment, in adults. Self-report questionnaires of meta-emotional philosophy (including “affect intolerance”), attachment insecurity, and self-esteem were collected from two samples: one through Amazon Mturk (N=96), another from students enrolled at a U.S. university (N=166). Correlation analyses demonstrated that affect intolerance was associated with insecure attachment in both studies. In the second study, self-esteem was shown to mediate that relationship, fully for avoidant attachment, and partially for anxious attachment. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature demonstrating that dismissive, intolerant, or devaluing personal views of one’s own negative emotions is associated with deleterious psychological outcomes.
Keywords: Emotion; Meta-Emotion; Affect; Self-Esteem; Attachment; Evolution