Adult attachment and physical health.


University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


This article examines how individual differences in adult attachment shape regulatory strategies and relationship behaviors, which in turn influence health-related responses, behaviors, and outcomes. We review links between attachment and physiological responses to stress (e.g., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses, cardiovascular responses, immune responses), health behavior (e.g., substance use, diet), and downstream health and disease outcomes. Recent evidence suggests that attachment insecurity (attachment anxiety and/or attachment avoidance) is associated with dysregulated physiological responses to stress, risky health behaviors, susceptibility to physical illness, and poorer disease outcomes. These associations depend, in part, on the relationship context, including the other partner's attachment style and behavior. We suggest that a dyadic approach considering both partners' attachment styles and behaviors will enhance interventions to promote health.