Towards an anxiety-buffer disruption approach to depression: attachment anxiety and worldview threat heighten death-thought accessibility and depression-related feelings

Mario Mikulincer, Uri Lifshin, Phillip R. Shaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: In two studies, we tested an anxiety-buffer disruption approach to depression, examining the effects of attachment insecurities, worldview threat, and death concerns on depression-related feelings. Method: In both studies, Israeli undergraduates reported on their attachment insecurities (anxiety, avoidance), were exposed to a worldview threat or a no-threat condition, and then rated their current level of depression-related feelings. Results: In Study 1 (N = 124), we also measured death-thought accessibility and found that a worldview threat (versus no-threat) heightened death-thought accessibility and depression feelings only among participants scoring relatively high on attachment anxiety, and that death-thought accessibility mediated the effects of worldview threat and attachment anxiety on feelings of depression. In Study 2 (N = 240), we randomly assigned participants to a mortality salience or a control condition and found that heightened death concerns caused more depression only when a worldview threat was present and participants’ attachment anxiety was high. Discussion: The roles that disruption of anxiety buffering systems and death-related concerns play in depression were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-273
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Guilford Publications. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Anxiety-buffer disruption
  • Attachment
  • Depression
  • Terror management
  • Worldview threat

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