ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 77-84.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00077

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The effect of attachment on the process of emotional regulation

HUANG Yufei, SHI Pan, CHEN Xu()   

  1. Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2021-03-18 Online:2022-01-15 Published:2021-11-25


Previous studies based on attachment theory have proved the influence of attachment on emotion regulation. These influences can be manifested in many aspects, such as the choice of emotion regulation strategies, the effect of emotion regulation, and some cognitive processing related to emotion regulation. However, these studies ignore the complexity and diversity of emotion regulation as a process, and therefore cannot answer how attachment can affect emotion regulation. The extended process model divides emotion regulation into three stages, and clearly describes the process of emotion regulation and the relationship between various factors in the process. Combining the extended process model and the attachment theory to look back to previous studies is helpful to find out the relationship among these studies and expand new research directions. From the perspective of the extended process model, it can be found that there are individual differences related to attachment in all the three stages of emotional regulation. Specifically, in the recognition stage, the influence of attachment on emotion regulation is mainly reflected in the cognitive processing related to emotions. Both higher attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance are related to lower emotion recognition ability. At the same time, higher attachment avoidance is related to lower emotion recognition ability, and higher attachment anxiety is related to lower emotion regulation self-efficacy. In the selection stage, individuals with different attachment styles have different preferences for the choice of emotion regulation strategies. Most studies have found that individuals with secure attachment prefer to use highly adaptable and efficient strategies (such as cognitive reappraisal), and individuals with insecure attachment styles prefer to use strategies which are less adaptable and efficient(such as hypo-regulation or hyper-regulation). In the implementation stage, most studies have found that both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance are significantly positively correlated with emotion regulation difficulties or disorders, but in some studies, high attachment avoidance individuals may not have problem with emotion regulation. In general, many factors are influenced by attachment in the process of emotion regulation, and the extended process model provides a theoretical framework for describing the sequence and causal relationship between these factors. However, there are still many key issues that have not yet been resolved. Future research can be expanded from the following aspects: The influence of attachment on emotional regulation should be explored while paying attention to the impact of environmental factors; New experimental paradigms need to be designed to confirm the continuity of the three stages and explore the reasons why attachment could affect emotional regulation. It is necessary to explore the influence of attachment on the emotion regulation flexibility. In addition, future intervention studies should design more targeted interventions to improve the emotion regulation of insecurely attached individuals.

Key words: attachment, emotion regulation, the extended process model, anxious attachment, avoidant attachment

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