Attachment, autonomy-connectedness, and internalizing and externalizing Personality Disorder Symptoms

N. Bachrach*, M.H.J. Bekker, M.A. Croon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The aim of this study was to analyze the higher order factor structure of
Personality Disorders Symptoms (PDS), and to investigate sex differences in
levels of PDS, attachment styles and autonomy-connectedness. Secondly, we
aimed to test a mediational path model, based upon attachment theory together
with neo-analytical object relation theory, with internalizing and externalizing
PDS as dependent variables and sex, attachment styles and autonomy-connectedness as explanatory variables.
Our sample consisted of 202 psychology students. We used self-report
questionnaires, independent t-tests, and factor- and regression analyses.
Conform expectations a common two-factor solution of internalizing and
externalizing was found for PDS. Men were, compared to women, less sensitive
to others, more capable of managing new situation, less anxiously attached, more avoidant attached and more externalizing. Conform expectations attachment styles were related to autonomy in a specific way. The analyses of our path model showed that especially anxious attachment predicted internalizing PDS. When leaving out attachment styles in the regression analyses, the autonomy scales also predicted internalizing PDS, indicating spurious correlation effects. Sex and anxious attachment were significant predictors of externalizing pathology.
Our results confirmed the existence of a two-order structure of internalizing
and externalizing, sex-differences in levels of autonomy, attachment styles and
internalizing and externalizing PDS. In addition, we think our theoretical model
gives a good explanation of the specific relationships between sex, attachment,
autonomy and internalizing and externalizing PDS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1060
JournalJournal of Psychiatry & Mental Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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