Attachment to parental figures in emerging adults from Brazil, India, and Nigeria: Associations with anxiety and depressive symptoms

Alannah Shelby Rivers, Payne Winston-Lindeboom, Guy Weissinger, Nicole K. Watkins, Linda Ruan-Iu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attachment theory suggests that experiences with parents and other caregivers are relevant for psychological functioning into adulthood, especially in relation to anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, this work has largely focused on Western countries and has often neglected relationships with paternal figures. The goal of the current study was to test four competing models of parental figure attachment (monotropy, only one attachment relates to symptoms; hierarchical, one attachment is more strongly related to symptoms; independence, both attachments are uniquely important in different ways; and integration, both attachments are uniquely important and interactive) in emerging adults from three countries with different cultures and family structures. We recruited 324 Brazilian, 309 Indian, and 319 Nigerian emerging adults using the online survey platform BeSample. Participants reported attachment to parental figures (maternal and/or paternal), anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms. Response surface analyses were tested in each country separately. In general, the results supported an integration model with significant interactions between parental figures. However, the direction of this interaction, as well as the presence of non-linear effects, differed by country. Our results suggest caregiver attachment remains relevant for individuals during the transition to young adulthood but with cultural variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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