Marital separation and divorce increase risk for all-cause morbidity and mortality. Using a laboratory analog paradigm, this study examined attachment anxiety, language use, and blood pressure (BP) reactivity among 119 (n = 43 men, 76 women) recently separated adults who were asked to mentally reflect on their relationship history and separation experience. A language use composite of verbal immediacy from participants' stream-of-consciousness recordings about their separation experience as a behavioral index of attachment-related hyperactivation was created. Verbal immediacy moderated the association between attachment anxiety and BP at the beginning of a divorce-specific activation task. Participants reporting high attachment anxiety who discussed their separation in a first-person, present-oriented, and highly engaged manner evidenced the highest levels of BP at the start of the divorce-specific task. Results provide a deeper understanding of the association between marital dissolution and health and suggest that verbal immediacy may be a useful behavioral index of hyperactivating coping strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies