Ethnicity moderates the association between attachment and well-being in later Life

Eva-Maria Merz, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland

Attachment styles are associated with wellbeing across the lifespan. Especially at older age, when individuals face declining health, and increasing dependency, different styles of attachment may predict affective outcome. Previous work has mainly concentrated on younger cohorts and on majority samples and not examined the attachment-wellbeing link at the end of the lifespan nor in ethnically diverse samples. Data from a sample of older adults (N = 1,118) were used to investigate how secure, dismissive and fearful/avoidant styles are linked to wellbeing in four ethnic groups; that is African Americans, European Americans, Eastern European immigrants and immigrants from the English speaking Caribbean. Attachment security was generally related to more wellbeing. Dismissive attachment also benefitted wellbeing; an effect that was enhanced by being African American or English speaking Caribbean. The detrimental effect of fearful/avoidant attachment was buffered for English speaking Caribbeans. Results are interpreted in light of general and culture specific premises of attachment and may aid in understanding challenges of ethnic diversity and immigration to adaptive outcome at old age.

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Presented in Poster Session 1