Association of attachment disorganization, attachment-related emotion regulation, and cortisol response after standardized psychosocial stress procedure: A pilot study

Katja Petrowski, Andrea Beetz, Susan Schurig, Gloria-Beatrice Wintermann, Anna Buchheim
2017 Psihologija  
Attachment representations are related to maintaining biological homeostasis, including physiological stress and emotional regulation. Therefore, recent research has focused on attachment stress regulation and hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity. However, the attachment disorganization underlying emotion regulation associated with the HPA axis response has not yet been investigated. In our study, the attachment representation and the HPA-axis reactivity by cortisol level before
more » ... rtisol level before and after the Trier Social Stress Test were assessed in a sample of 98 healthy non-clinical subjects. As expected, approximately 30% of this sample showed a disorganized attachment representation. The subjects' unresolved attachment (breakdown of emotional regulation) showed a prolonged cortisol recovery. No differences were found between the attachment patterns in the increase and the delta of the cortisol response. However, the cortisol reactivity differed significantly for the occurrence of emotional regulation. The subjects with a high occurrence of attachment-related emotion regulation showed a higher cortisol response than the subjects with an unresolved attachment and the ones with a low occurrence of attachment-related emotion regulation. Regulating the negative emotions of stressful situations may require more attention as it might lead to an increased activation of the physiological system. Highlights: • Unresolved attachment occurred with a prolonged cortisol recovery • High attachment-related emotion regulation is followed by higher cortisol response • Unresolved attachment regulation showed low cortisol response (CR) • Attachment-related regulation and not classification ensued specific CR
doi:10.2298/psi130807001p fatcat:meg4ryxn4val5bt4bwjo62cliu