The Role of Self-Esteem on Emotion Regulation in Avoidant Attachment Bowlby

The Role of Self-Esteem on Emotion Regulation in Avoidant Attachment
Bowlby (1973) proposed that individuals built mental representations based on their attachment style and these working models determine the representation of self and others which are effective in emotion regulation (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007; Shaver, Gillath & Mikulincer, 2002). Previous works found that securely attached people tend to use adaptive emotion regulation strategies while insecure attachment leads to maladaptive emotion regulation strategies (Pereg & Mikulincer, 2004). Although people’s representation of self has an effective role on emotion regulation as well (Clark ; Symons, 2009), in secure attachment (Roberts, Gotlib ; Kassel, 1996). The aim of the study is to investigate the role of self-esteem (high or low) on using emotion regulation strategies in individuals who have avoidant attachment style. The current study will be conduct among undergraduate students who have avoidant attachment style which is varied under two subgroup: fearful and dismissive.

According to attachment theory infants develop an instinctive emotional bond to their caregiver or attachment figure in order to meet their need of security, proximity and interaction. (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1982). Ainsworth (1970) expanded the original attachment theory by conducting a classification system called ”strange situation” in order to determine attachment styles in infants and found three type: Secure, ambivalent (anxious) and avoidant attachment. Secure attachment refers to feeling secure and knowing the caregiver dependable, will meet their needs and make them comfortable. Ambivalently attached children characterized by high anxiety during separation and not comforted with reunion. They are dependable to attachment figure and perceive attachment figure untrustworthy due to not answer the infant’s needs. In avoidant attachment children tend to avoid caregiver and the perception of caregiver isn’t different than a stranger. Children learn to avoid of seeking help, they are distant and independent from attachment figure (Ainsworth, 1970). Based on the three infant attachment style, Hazan and Shaver (1987) found that adults have same type of attachment styles in their romantic relationships too, thus this finding show that attachment determination tool is applicable for adults as well. Also the finding supports the idea of attachment between infant and caregiver develops in childhood and continue through life (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1982).

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Bowlby (1969, 1973, 1982) said that infant’s attachment style determines their mental representation of self and others which affect their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in close relationships. Based on the statement Mikulincer & Shaver (2007) consider these working models and proposed when people perceive a danger they look for proximity and security for others. This activation of attachment system will results with relief and repairing emotional balance if the person has a positive mental representation of self (perception of one’s own value to attachment figure in terms of lovability and ability to cope with stress) and others (perception of attachment figure based on availability, intention and supportiveness). In other words individuals regulate their emotions due to activation of the attachment systems that composed with already established beliefs about the self and others. The system develops as a result of infant-attachment figure relationship. Securely attached people tend to regulate the emotions by expressing and experiencing them without being overwhelmed (Mikulincer ; Orbach,1995). Therefore they develop more adaptive strategies. Ambivalently attached people show hyperactivation strategies during emotion regulation which refers to show exaggerated negative reactions and sensitivity to threats. In avoidant attachment individuals use deactivation strategies by denying or suppressing their negative emotions because they see the threats are not important (Mikulincer, Shaver ; Pereg, 2003). The above findings show that, mental representation of the attachment figure is activated when people perceive a treat. Attachment type (secure, ambivalent and avoidant) determine what kind of emotion regulation strategies will be use during experiencing the threat.
The link between attachment and emotion regulation is affected by individual differences such as self-esteem (Gross ; John, (2003) which refers to person’s sense of worth or value (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991). Attachment styles differentiate in order to self-esteem and people with insecure attachment have low self-esteem while securely attached people have high self-esteem (Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991). It has been proposed by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) a four category model for adult attachment that based on the positive or negative representation of self and others (two-dimensional model). The categories presented as secure, preoccupied, dismissive, and fearful types. The first category reflects a positive view of self and others. Preoccupied (ambivalent attachment) refers to people who have negative view of self and positive others. In the model avoidant attachment divided into two categories as fearful and dismissive. Fearful one has a negative view of self and others. They avoid social situations because they expect that others will hurt them and they have a belief of they don’t deserve a social relationship. In dismissing class, people have positive view of self and negative other as a result they avoid intimacy and dependency. In sum avoidant people use maladaptive emotion regulation strategies such as suppression or avoidance from negative emotions and we know self-esteem is related emotion regulation as well, especially high self-esteem leads to use more adaptive emotion regulation strategies. (Bajaj, Gupta, ; Pande, 2016). Also previous works show that avoidant attachment style divided into two categories in terms of high and low self-esteem as dismissive and fearful, respectively. Dismissive people have superior belief about themselves and fearful people see themselves worthless. Therefore the hypothesis of the current study is avoidant people who have high self-esteem (dismissive style) tend to use more adaptive emotion regulation strategies than avoidant people who have low self-esteem (fearful style).

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introAccording to Bowlby (1982), these
mental models are the ones which unify and organize the individual’s
experiences and beliefs and also comprise other people’s personal

. Also the system is critical for maintaining positivity and goal-congruency as a result of attachment styles repetitive aspect during life time. If
The activation of attachment system serve as an emotion regulation due to previously established working models and critical for maintaining positivity and goal-congruency because people’s attachment styles are repetitive during life time.

Recent research has shown that individual
differences in adult attachment type are described more
precisely in terms of two independent continuous
dimensions: anxiety and avoidance (Brennan, Clark,
and Shaver, 1998; Fraley & Waller, 1998).
dimensions determine adoption of emotion regulation
strategies, that are manifested in two major forms:
attachment system hyperactivation and deactivation of
the attachment system. According to Mikulincer and
Shaver (2007), attachment anxiety and avoidance are
both characterized by the failure of proximity seeking
to relieve distress, and the consequent adoption of
secondary attachment strategies. Attachment styles
include cognitive, affective and behavioral changes
which may suppress or block the generation activation
and expression of emotions. Attachment strategies
guide the assessment of emotion regulation and
configure personal feelings and actionable trends.

Two types of maladaptive affect regulations have been implicated
in the extant literature as possible mediators of the different
attachment dimensions and negative mood and interpersonal problems.

The first type of maladaptive affect regulation is a hyperactive
strategy in which individuals overreact to their negative feelings
in order to elicit support from others and to ensure their
availability (e.g., Cassidy, 1994, 2000; Cassidy & Kobak, 1988;
Kobak, Cole, Ferenz-Gillies, Fleming, & Gamble, 1993; Lopez &
Brennan, 2000; Mikulincer et al., 2003; Pietromonaco & Feldman
Barrett, 2000; Shaver & Mikulincer, 2002). The second type of
maladaptive affect regulation is a deactivating strategy in which
individuals suppress their negative feelings and maximize their
distance from others in order to avoid frustration caused by others’
unavailability (e.g., Cassidy, 1994, 2000; Cassidy ; Kobak, 1988;
Lopez ; Brennan, 2000; Mikulincer et al., 2003; Pietromonaco ;
Feldman Barrett, 2000; Shaver ; Mikulincer, 2002). These affect
regulation strategies may have a short-term adaptive value by
reducing uncomfortable feelings toward others who have been
insensitive or rejecting (Cassidy, 2000; Cassidy ; Kobak, 1988).

However, the rigid use of these affect regulation strategies appears
to contribute to negative mood (e.g., depression or anxiety) and