Attachment insecurity and dispositional aggression: the mediating role of maladaptive anger regulation

Zara P. Brodie, Karen Goodall, Stephen Darling, Chris McVittie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Attachment insecurity has been associated with dysfunctional strategies for emotion regulation, leading to inflexible or maladaptive responding. Currently, application of the attachment framework to anger is underspecified. This study presents a preliminary investigation of attachment-related differences in the dispositional regulation of anger and aggressive outcomes. 270 participants completed measures of adult attachment (attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance), anger regulation processes (anger suppression, unregulated anger and anger control) and aggressive outcomes (physical aggression, verbal aggression and hostility). While those high in attachment anxiety have been found to under-regulate other negative emotions, our results postulate that these individuals may implement a suppression strategy when faced with the experience of anger. Mediation models indicate that anger suppression is implicated in the relationship between attachment dimensions and hostility, but not physical aggression. This supports the notion that suppression may be useful in reducing the external expression of anger, but cannot alleviate the associated internal cognitions. These findings suggest that levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance should be considered when identifying techniques to target specific anger regulatory difficulties that contribute to increased aggression. Further, consideration and exploration of the role of security priming is encouraged as a possible mechanism by which to reduce dispositional hostility in those with high levels of attachment insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1831-1852
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Attachment
  • Avoidance
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Hostility
  • Psychology


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