Attachment anxiety, verbal immediacy, and blood pressure: Results from a laboratory analog study following marital separation

Lauren A. Lee, David A. Sbarra, Ashley E. Mason, Rita W. Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-301
Number of pages17
JournalPersonal Relationships
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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