Attachment security priming as a potential intervention for depressive symptoms

Austen B. McGuire, Omri Gillath, Yo Jackson, Rick Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have demonstrated that people high on attachment insecurity are more likely to report depressive symptoms as compared to those low on insecurity (secures). These findings suggest that enhancing one's sense of attachment security could help relieve depressive symptoms. One promising technique for increasing attachment security that has received relatively little attention as a therapeutic intervention is attachment security priming. Compared with other interventions, security priming is easier and takes less time to administer. The current studies examined if priming techniques used to increase attachment security could reduce depressive symptoms in an adolescent and emerging adults samples. In Study 1, depressive symptoms were assessed before exposure to either attachment security or neutral primes and then re-Assessed one week later. Results revealed that participants who were exposed to the security primes reported a greater decrease in depressive symptoms than the control group. In Study 2, adolescents who were repeatedly exposed over two weeks to security primes showed lower depression symptoms than participants exposed to neutral primes. Overall, our findings provide initial support to the idea that attachment security priming can be a useful method to help decrease depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-68
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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