The influence of parental bonding, male gender role conflict, and affect regulation on adult attachment avoidance : predictors of men's discomfort with intimacy
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Past research has indicated that masculine socialization norms contribute to avoidance of intimacy in close relationships, which has been proposed to inhibit men’s psychological adjustment. The goal of the current dissertation was to examine associations among parental bonding, gender role conflict, affect regulation capacity, and adult attachment avoidance to describe the dynamic interaction between psychological and societal influences impacting adult attachment style. The present investigation employed a developmental contextual framework used to examine attachment and psychoanalytic theories describing the evolution of characteristic male interpersonal strategies. In the current study, it was proposed that parental bonding would predict adult attachment avoidance, gender role conflict, and affect regulation capacity. It was also hypothesized that both gender role conflict and three distinct affect regulation variables would predict adult attachment avoidance. Finally, the study aimed to test a model proposing that gender role conflict and affect regulation variables mediate the relationship between parental bonding and avoidance of intimacy in romantic relationships. Two hundred and sixty-six undergraduate men completed a series of online surveys and 10 of these individuals participated in open-ended, follow-up interviews. The relationships between study variables were examined with linear regression and mediational analyses. Qualitative data regarding constructs of interest were elicited from interview respondents and interpreted for themes. Results demonstrated partial support for mediation effects, indicating that gender role conflict, emotion regulation suppression, and emotion regulation reappraisal helped to explain the association between maternal bonding care and adult attachment avoidance. In addition, interview themes related to five content areas were described and integrated with implications for future research directions and clinical applications. Results of this study identified significant mechanisms underlying the development of men’s maladaptive discomfort with intimacy in adulthood. Findings revealed through investigation of male interpersonal connections and the origins of specific emotion regulation strategies will assist researchers and clinicians to further elucidate the construct of masculinity from a developmental contextual perspective. Study outcomes indicated that masculine gender role socialization and capacity to regulate affect should be key points of intervention for therapists working with men presenting with relational difficulties linked to early parental attachments.