1 School of Psychology, Central China Normal University; Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education; Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province, Wuhan 430079, China 2 Department of Mental health education and consultation center, Guizhou Normal College, Guiyang 550018, China 3 Department of Mental health education and consultation center, Guizhou Normal College, Guiyang 550018, China 4 School of Educational Science, Anshun College, Anshun 561000, China 5 Guiyang Children's Normal College, Guiyang 550001, China
In rural areas of China, more than 50 million elderly people are left-behind, and they have a strong sense of loneliness. The relationship between husband and wife plays an important role in alleviating the loneliness feeling of the elderly, therefore, it is crucial to understand the association between marital attachment and loneliness of left-behind elderly. Previous study showed that Chinese elderly’s marital attachment was composed in three dimensions: security, avoidance and anxiety. However, the three-dimensional structure of Chinese elderly’s marital attachment has not been tested in the rural elderly population. In addition, the association between Chinese elderly’s loneliness and their three-dimensional marital attachment is also not clear. Therefore, further studies are needed. The current study, firstly, tested the three-dimensional structure of the Chinese elderly’s marital attachment, and secondly, investigated the relationship between marital attachment and loneliness of left-behind elderly.
The Older Adults’ Marital Attachment Scale, Scale of Perceived Social Support, Core Self-Evaluations Scale, and ULS-8 Loneliness Scale were administered to 510 left-behind elderly from rural areas in China. All cases were randomly assigned to two subsets: one set was for exploratory factor analysis, and the other was for confirmatory factor analysis. The SPSS 20.0 and AMOS 20.0 were used for this analysis, and the structural equation model and the bootstrapping analysis were employed to examine the hypothesized mediating model.
The key findings were as follows: (1) the 14-item revised OAMAS showed a three-dimensional construct of attachment, namely security, avoidance, and anxiety; (2) the marital attachment of left-behind elderly could be clustered into three types, including secure marital attachment (37.84%), refusal marital attachment (31.18%), and anxious marital attachment (30.98%). The proportion of secure marital attachment in left-behind elderly was significantly lower than that in community elderly (Z = -5.63, p < 0.001), and the proportion of refusal marital attachment in left-behind elderly was significantly higher than that in community elderly (Z = 7.01, p < 0.001) ; (3) perceived social support fully mediated the association among security attachment, avoidance attachment and loneliness. Perceived social support and core self-evaluations had multiple mediation effects on the association among security attachment, avoidance attachment and loneliness. While the association between anxiety attachment and loneliness was partially mediated by core self-evaluations.
The results indicated that three-dimensional structure of Older Adults’ Marital Attachment Scale was an effective measurement of marital attachment in left-behind elderly group. There was a close relationship between the marital attachment and loneliness of the left-behind elderly, safe marital attachment could effectively relieve the loneliness of left-behind elderly. The results may help to expand the study range of elderly’s marital attachment, and provide a reference for reducing the loneliness of the left-behind elderly. implications and limitations are discussed.
谢其利,李崇敬,全小山,何飞,江光荣. 少年夫妻老来伴：夫妻依恋与留守老人孤独感[J]. 心理学报, 2018, 50(7): 771-781.
Qili XIE,Chongjing LI,Xiaoshan QUAN,Guangrong JIANG, . Couples when young and companions when aged: The relationship between marital attachment and loneliness of left behind elderly. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(7): 771-781.
Andrew, M.K., &Rockwood K. , ( 2010). Social vulnerability predicts cognitive decline in a prospective cohort of older Canadians. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 6( 4), 319-325.
Antonucci T. C., Akiyama H., &Takahashi K . ( 2004). Attachment and close relationships across the life span. Attachment & Human Development, 6( 4), 353-370.
Becker T. E., Billings R. S., Evelrth D. M., & Gilbert N. W . ( 1997). Validity of scores on three attachment style scales: Exploratory and confirmatory evidence. Educational & Psychological Measurement, 57( 3), 477-493.
Bodner, E., &Cohen-Fridel S. , ( 2010). Relations between attachment styles, ageism and quality of life in late life. International Psychogeriatrics, 22( 8), 1353-1361.
Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York:Basic Books.
Carstensen L. L., Turan B., Scheibe S., Ram N., Ersner- Hershfield H., Samanez-Larkin G. R., … Nesselroade J. R . ( 2011). Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling. Psychology and Aging, 26( 1), 21-23.
Collins, N.L . ( 1996). Working models of attachment: Implications for explanation, emotion, and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71( 4), 810-832.
Connelly,R., &Maurer-Fazio M. , ( 2016). Left behind, at-risk, and vulnerable elders in rural China. China Economic Review, 37, 140-153.
Dahlem N. W., Zimet G. D., & Walker R. R . ( 1991). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support: A confirmation study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 47( 6), 756-761.
Du J. Z., Zhang X., & Zhao Y . ( 2012). Reliability, validation and construct confirmatory of core self-evaluations scale. Psychological Research, 5( 3), 54-60.
Fang, J., &Zhang M.Q . ( 2012). Assessing point and interval estimation for the mediating effect: Distribution of the product, nonparametric Bootstrap and Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 44( 10), 1408-1420.
Gillath O., Johnson D. K., Selcuk E., & Teel C . ( 2011). Comparing old and young adults as they cope with life transitions: The links between social network management skills and attachment style to depression. Clinical Gerontologist, 34( 3), 251-265.
Halat, M.I., &Hovardaoğlu S. , ( 2010). The relations between the attachment styles, causality and responsibility attributions and loneliness of the married couples in the context of the investment model. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 2332-2337.
Hays, R.D., &DiMatteo M.R . ( 1987). A short-form measure of loneliness. Journal of Personality Assessment, 51( 1), 69-81.
Hazan, C., &Shaver P. , ( 1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52( 3), 511-524.
Holtfreter K., Reisig M. D., &Turanovic J. J . ( 2016). Self-rated poor health and loneliness in late adulthood: Testing the moderating role of familial ties. Advances in Life Course Research, 27, 61-68.
Jaremka L. M., Fagundes C. P., Glaser R., Bennett J. M., Malarkey W. B., & Kiecolt-Glaser J. K . ( 2013). Loneliness predicts pain, depression, and fatigue: Understanding the role of immune dysregulation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38( 8), 1310-1317.
Judge T. A., Erez A., Bono J. E., & Thoresen C. J . ( 2003). The core self-evaluations scale: Development of a measure. Personnel Psychology, 56( 2), 303-331.
Kafetsios, K., &Sideridis ,G.D . ( 2006). Attachment, social support and well-being in young and older adults. Journal of Health Psychology, 11( 6), 863-875.
Kuwert P., Knaevelsrud C., & Pietrzak R. H . ( 2014). Loneliness among older veterans in the United States: Results from the national health and resilience in veterans study. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22( 6), 564-569.
Lin K., Yin P. J., & Loubere N . ( 2014). Social support and the ‘left behind’ elderly in rural China: A case study from Jiangxi province. Journal of Community Health, 39( 4), 674-681.
Mallinckrodt, B., &Wei, M.F . ( 2005). Attachment, social competencies, social support, and psychological distress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52( 3), 358-367.
McCarthy, G., &Davies S. , ( 2003). Some implications of attachment theory for understanding psychological functioning in old age: An illustration from the long-term psychological effects of World War Two. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 10( 3), 144-155.
Merz,E.M., &Consedine N.S . ( 2009). The association of family support and wellbeing in later life depends on adult attachment style. Attachment & Human Development, 11( 2), 203-221.
Mikulincer M., & Shaver, P. R. ( 2007). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change. New York: Guilford Press.
Moyle W., Kellett U., Ballantyne A., & Gracia N . ( 2011). Dementia and loneliness: An Australian perspective. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 20( 9-10), 1445-1453.
National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China. ( 2015. China family development report (2015). Retrieved May 13, 2017, from
Nguyen A. W., Chatters L. M., Taylor R. J., & Mouzon D. M . ( 2016). Social support from family and friends and subjective well-being of older African Americans. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17( 3), 959-979.
Orth U., Trzesniewski K. H., & Robins R. W . ( 2010). Self-Esteem development from young adulthood to old age: A cohort-sequential longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98( 4), 645-658.
Perissinotto C. M., Stijacic Cenzer I., & Covinsky K. E . ( 2012). Loneliness in older persons: A predictor of functional decline and death. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172( 14), 1078-1084.
Poulin J., Rong D., Ingersoll T. S., Witt H., & Swain M . ( 2012). Perceived family and friend support and the psychological well-being of American and Chinese elderly persons. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 27( 4), 305-317.
Richard A., Rohrmann S., Vandeleur C. L., Schmid M., Barth J., & Eichholzer M . ( 2017). Loneliness is adversely associated with physical and mental health and lifestyle factors: Results from a Swiss national survey. PLoS One, 12( 7), e0181442.
Roberts J. E., Gotlib I. H., & Kassel J. D . ( 1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70( 2), 310-320.
Santini Z. I., Fiori K. L., Feeney J., Tyrovolas S., Haro J. M., & Koyanagi A . ( 2016). Social relationships, loneliness, and mental health among older men and women in Ireland: A prospective community-based study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 204, 59-69.
Schmitt D. P., Alcalay L., Allensworth M., Allik J., Ault L., Austers I., … Zupanèiè A . ( 2004). Patterns and universals of adult romantic attachment across 62 cultural regions: Are models of self and of other pancultural constructs? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 35( 4), 367-402.
Timm, T.M., &Keiley M.K . ( 2011). The effects of differentiation of self, adult attachment, and sexual communication on sexual and marital satisfaction: A path analysis. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 37( 3), 206-223.
van Assche L., Luyten P., Bruffaerts R., Persoons P., van de Ven L., & Vandenbulcke M . ( 2013). Attachment in old age: Theoretical assumptions, empirical findings and implications for clinical practice. Clinical Psychology Review, 33( 1), 67-81.
Wang, D.H., &Zhang M.Y . ( 2011). The features of spouse support and its relationship with marital attachment and marital satisfaction among older adults. Psychological Development and Education, 27( 2), 195-201.
Wang D. H., Yang X. Y., Wang Y., & Miller R. B . ( 2015). The assessment of marital attachment and its relationship with general attachment among older adults. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 47( 9), 1133-1142.
Xiong H. X., Zhang J., Ye B. J., Zheng X., & Sun P. Z . ( 2012). Common method variance effects and the models of statistical approaches for controlling it. Advances in Psychological Science, 20( 5), 757-769.
Zhang X., Chen X., Ran G. M., & Ma Y. X . ( 2016). Adult children’s support and self-esteem as mediators in the relationship between attachment and subjective well-being in older adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 97, 229-233.
Zhou L., Li Z., Hu M., & Xiao S. Y . ( 2012). Reliability and validity of ULS-8 loneliness scale in elderly samples in a rural community. Journal of Central South University (Medical Science), 37( 11), 1124-1128.