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Preventive Resources and Emotion Regulation Expectancies as Mediators Between Attachment and College Students Stress Outcomes

Christopher J. McCarthy University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas Richard G. Lambert University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina Naomi P. Moller University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

In this study the authors examined both preventive psychological coping resources and negative mood regulation expectancies as potential mediators between parental attachment and two types of stress outcomes: stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions. Data were collected from 390 college students and separate structural equation models were tested for the outcomes of stress symptoms and emotions. Results suggested that for both models, as hypothesized, preventive resources and negative mood regulation expectancies functioned as mediators. Further, there was evidence that these results were similar for the model in which stress symptoms were used as an outcome, as well as the model in which stress-produced emotions were used as the outcome. Implications for a more complete understanding of psychological resources promoted by secure attachment are discussed.
Keywords: parental attachment, coping resources, emotion regulation, stress outcomes

Attachment theorists have suggested that the psychological capacities of adolescents and adults are strongly determined by childhood relationships with caregivers (Bowlby, 1979; Main, 1999). This prediction is often borne
Christopher J. McCarthy and Naomi P. Moller, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; Richard G. Lambert, Department of Educational Leadership, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christopher J. McCarthy, Department of Educational Psychology, 1 University Station D5800, Austin, TX 78712-0383. E-mail:
International Journal of Stress Management 2006, Vol. 13, No. 1, 122 Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association 1072-5245/06/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1072-5245.13.1.1

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out in the experience of college counselors, who nd that many students who have difculty coping in college report family-of-origin issues (Braver, Burnberry, Green, & Rawson, 1992). However, although the impact of negative early relational experiences is potentially severe, implicit in most college counseling interventions is the notion that difcult childhoods can be ameliorated through individual and group work aimed to change attachment dynamics and improve coping capacities (Lopez, Maurico, Gormley, Simko, & Berger, 2001). Although the notions are widely held (Ainsworth, 1989) that (a) resources for coping with life demands in adolescence and adulthood develop from early interactions with ones caregivers (Bradford & Lyddon, 1993) and (b) ones level of attachment to parental gures is closely linked to emotional functioning throughout the life span, these ideas have historically received little empirical support (Magai, Distel, & Liker, 1995). In recent years, however, researchers have investigated how attachment histories impact a broad range of capacities for coping with stress (e.g., Wei, Heppner, & Mallinckrodt, 2003) in adolescence and adulthood, whereas a second line of research has focused more narrowly on the notion that attachment mainly promotes affect regulation capacities (Feeney & Noller, 1996). The purpose of this study was to clarify whether both types of resources general capacities for coping with stress and specic negative mood regulation capacitiesplay a different role as mediators between attachment and stress outcomes among college students. Given that some researchers regard attachment as a theory of affect regulation (Feeney & Noller, 1996), it makes sense that some studies have focused on levels of stress-produced emotions such as anxiety and depression as primary indicators of adjustment (Lopez et al., 2001; Wei et al., 2003). Other studies, however, have been focused on symptoms that stress is affecting ones health or overall ability to function, including the capacity to resolve personal problems (Lopez, Mitchell, & Gormley, 2002) and keep life demands at an acceptable level (McCarthy, Moller, & Fouladi, 2001). Because previous researchers have focused mainly on examining the mediational role of narrowly dened psychological resources on one type of outcome measure (i.e., stress symptoms having to do with the ability to function in everyday life or stress-produced emotions having to do with the experience of negative affect), it is important to clarify whether mediators function differently depending on which type of outcome is used. To evaluate whether there is a differential relationship between attachment mediators and these various indices of distress, we analyzed two separate models in this study: one used stress-produced emotions as the outcome variable, and one used stress symptoms. Structural equation modeling was therefore used to (a) examine the hypothesis that the effect of preventive psychological coping resources as generalized indices of the potential to cope with life demands would be

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antecedent to (i.e., have a direct inuence on) beliefs that one can cope with negative emotions (hereafter referred to as negative mood regulation expectancies) and (b) to test rival models in which stress symptoms and stressproduced emotions, respectively, are used as outcomes. The rationales for the inclusion of each construct in this study will next be presented in the order in which they were hypothesized to affect psychological functioning: the relationship between (a) parental attachment, (b) the hypothesized mediating variables of preventive coping resources and their relationship to mood regulation expectancies, and (c) the outcome variables of self-reported stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions.


Mikulincer and Florian (1998) suggested that secure adult attachment functions as an inner resource that can help one cope with stress and the emotions generated by lifes adversities. As was noted previously, two lines of research have emerged in an attempt to clarify these resources and how they are related to psychological functioning. One such line has focused on a broad conceptualization of secure attachment as providing the individual with the coping resources necessary for handling life stress across the life span. That this occurs can be inferred from research indicating that secure attachment promotes effective coping strategies including better problem solving in toddlerhood (Matas, Arend, & Sroufe, 1978), higher social competence when interacting with peers in preschool-aged children (Howes, Matheson, & Hamilton, 1994), and high levels of ego resiliency and curiosity in school-aged youths (Arend, Gove, & Sroufe, 1979). Later in life secure attachment has been associated with greater commitment, trust, and satisfaction in romantic relationships in young adults (Simpson, 1990). The mediational role of psychological resources for coping between attachment and psychological functioning in college students has been examined in several recent studies. For example, Lopez et al. (2001) found that the relationship between insecure adult attachment and distress in college students (i.e., levels of anxiety and depression) was mediated by the tendency to employ ineffective problem-focused coping strategies, such as becoming preoccupied with problems or acting impulsively. In addition, Lopez, Mitchell, and Gormley (2002) found that measures of self-organization (i.e., the tendency to conceal personal information, that is both intimate and negative, as well as experiences of depersonalization and self-fragmentation) mediated the relationship between college students current attachment and measures of perceived stress levels and symptoms. In addition, Wei et al. (2003) found

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that perceived problem-solving ability in college students mediated adult attachment and indicators of psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Although the evidence that secure attachment promotes a range of psychological resources is persuasive, another line of research has been focused more narrowly on the proposition that secure attachment bonds promote mood regulation capacities (Fuendeling, 1998). For example, securely attached adults have been found to be less anger-prone (Mikulincer, 1995), to be better able to regulate feelings of distress (Mikulincer & Florian, 1995), and to have greater condence in their ability to regulate negative moods (McCarthy et al., 2001). Creasey (2002) also found support for the mediational role of negative mood regulation (NMR) expectancies between adult attachment styles measured using the Adult Attachment Interview and self-reported stress symptoms in a sample of female college students. It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that both general levels of coping resources and specic capacities for regulating negative moods can both serve important, yet distinct, roles when functioning as mediators between levels of attachment and well-being.


The dominant models of stress and coping, often referred to as transactional models, emphasize the importance of subjective evaluations of both external demands and perceived coping resources in determining whether demands become stressors (for a review, see Matheny, Aycock, Pugh, Curlette, & Canella, 1986). According to this perspective, individuals experience the physiological, emotional, and behavioral consequences of stress only when it is perceived that the demands of a situation exceed ones resources for coping. Consequently, possession of adequate levels of psychological coping resources is essential in avoiding many of the harmful effects of stress. Matheny et al. (1986) and Aspinwall and Taylor (1997) noted that most research and intervention models involve coping resources for combating current stressors and neglect the importance of resources that might be used to prevent stress. This distinction seems particularly important for the current study, given how attachment theorists frame the types of capacities and resources promoted by secure attachment. For example, Bowlby (1979) suggested that childhood attachment experiences continue to exert an inuence into adulthood because ones attachment history leads to the formation

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of internal cognitive templates, called working models. These models, he suggested, persist into adolescence and adulthood and help individuals predict and manage interactions with the outside world, especially relationships with signicant others. Similarly, McCarthy, Lambert, Beard, and Dematatis (2002) suggested that preventive coping resources equip people with a set of attitudes and beliefs that will be useful in preventing harmful levels of stress. McCarthy et al. (2002) suggested two main ways in which this could happen: (a) good preventive copers may use their capacities to arrange their lives so that negative events and requirements are kept to a minimum, and (b) possession of preventive coping resources may allow one to make benign interpretations of life demands whenever possible that mitigate stressful reactions. NMR expectancies were modeled in this study as being impacted by preventive coping resources because of the suggestion that NMR expectancies are associated with the intensity and duration of negative mood states experienced under stress (Catanzaro & Greenwood, 1994, p. 35). In other words, although the availability of sufcient coping resources may inuence reactions to distressing events, NMR expectancies are thought to be the mechanism by which stress-produced emotions are actually regulated (Mearns, 1991). In an attempt to measure this, Catanzaro and Mearns (1990) developed the Negative Mood Regulation Scale (NMRS) to measure the expectancy that some behavior or cognition will alleviate a negative mood state (p. 546) and hypothesized a relationship between such expectancies and stress outcomes. Recently, the NMRS was used to examine the link between coping resources and mood regulation expectancies in a study by McCarthy, Lambert, and Seraphine (2004). The researchers found that coping resources and mood regulation expectancies both functioned as mediators between adaptive family functioning and self-reported negative emotions following parental conict. Although McCarthy et al. (2004) used only a global measure of coping resources that did not specically assess stress prevention resources, they did nd that psychological coping resources directly impacted self-reports of the ability to regulate negative moods. It was speculated that mood-regulation expectancies derive in part from the belief that one has sufcient coping resources for dealing with stress-produced emotions. In the present study, therefore, we examined the hypothesis that preventive coping resources would have a direct relationship with negative mood regulation expectancies and that both would function as mediators of the relationship between attachment and stress outcomes.

In this study we evaluated a model constructed from the following hypotheses: (a) the antecedent variable, parental attachment, was expected to

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have a positive direct effect on the development of college students preventive coping resources and mood regulation expectancies; (b) coping resources and mood regulation expectancies were expected to directly inuence both stress-symptoms and stress-produced emotions; and (c) levels of preventive coping resources were expected to have a direct effect on negative mood regulation expectancies. Figure 1 shows the path diagrams tested in the study, in which the ellipses represent latent constructs and single-headed arrows represent directional links between pairs of constructs. The conceptual models using stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions as the outcomes consisted of four latent constructs and six directional links between constructs. Because the variables in the structural model are dened as latent, each one is dened or measured by two or more observed variables. Latent variables, conceptually similar to factors in exploratory factor analysis, are not directly measured and when modeled using structural equation modeling (SEM) provide an estimate of an underlying construct while controlling for measurement error. They represent underlying latent traits and are indirectly measured by multiple observed variables, each of which provides sample-specic estimates of components of the latent variable. The links between the latent variables and the observed variables are often referred to as the measurement model and is similar to a factor model. Next is a description of each latent construct in terms of its dened observed variables. The latent variable of parental attachment was measured by using scales from two different instruments: (a) scales measuring the affective quality of the relationship (Quality scale) and parents supportiveness (Support scale) from the Parental Attachment Questionnaire (PAQ; Kenny, 1987, 1990) and (b) two scales measuring attachment to the mother and father from the Inventory of Parental and Peer Attachment (IPPA; Armsden & Greenberg, 1987, 1989). It should be noted that several types of attachment measures exist, which may be continuous or categorical, assess current or retrospective relationships, or focus on attachment style versus attachment behaviors (Garbarino, 1998). Different measures are also used to assess attachment in different domains, such as romantic, peer, or parental relationships. The focus of this investigation was on parental attachment because this attachment relationship represents perhaps the most direct link between child and adult attachment. Parental attachment tends to remain signicant at least through the college years, and, in most cases, the target of these attachments remains constant throughout childhood and adolescence, in contrast to romantic and peer attachments which typically do not (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987). In addition, although many studies focus on differences in functioning between the various categories of insecure attachment proposed by Main and colleagues (i.e., dismissing, when the person devalues attachment objects, and

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Figure 1. Structural models tested with nal standardized path coefcients. Values for the models using Stress symptoms as the outcome are presented rst next to each path, followed by bolded and italicized values for the Stress-produced emotions models. Preventive CR Preventive Coping Resources, NMR Negative Mood Regulation Expectancies. Higher scores on Attachment, Preventive CR, and NMR indicate higher functioning on that variable, higher scores on Stress Outcome indicated higher levels of either stress symptoms or stress-produced emotions.

preoccupied, when the attachment experience is highly idealized; see Main, 1999), the goal of this study was to examine parental attachment history as a single dimension ranging from higher attachment security to lower attachment security (McCarthy et al., 2001).

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As was noted previously, the ability to anticipate and avoid stressful situations seemed especially relevant to examine as a function of attachment history, and four scales from the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI; McCarthy & Lambert, 2003) were used in this study: Perceived Control, Maintaining Perspective, Social Resourcefulness, and Self-Acceptance. The construct for generalized expectancies about negative mood regulation was measured by using the three scales from the NMRS (Catanzaro & Mearns, 1990). For the models using stress symptoms as the outcome measure, three scales from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSC; Greene, Walkey, McCormick, & Taylor, 1988) were used: General Distress, Somatic Distress, and Performance Difculty. For the models using stress-produced emotions as the outcome variable, the UCLA Loneliness Scale (LS; Russell, 1996; Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980; Russell, Peplau, & Ferguson, 1978), the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS; Beck, Weissman, Lester & Trexler, 1974), and the negative affect scale from the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) were used.

METHOD Participants and Procedures

Participants were 390 students (mean age 21.04, SD 2.34) taking upper division elective courses at a large, Southwestern university. They were recruited over two consecutive semesters, received course credit for their participation, and completed a demographics survey and the instruments described below. Data collection began approximately 1 month after each semester began and occurred over the course of approximately 6 weeks so that participants were completing the study at about the same point in each semester. The sample was 68.4% female and 31.6% male; 54.9% were seniors, 21.9% were juniors, 12.6% were sophomores, 8.2% were freshman, and 2.3% were graduate students. Based on self-reports, ethnic backgrounds of the sample were European American (65.4%), Asian American (20.2%), Hispanic (4.7%), African American (4.1%), and biracial or multiracial (5.6%). The participants reported their current parental gures as both biological father and mother (84.1%), only one biological parent in their lives (8.3%), one biological and one step parent (7.1%), and other situations (0.6% or two participants, currently living with grandparents or legal guardians).

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PAQ The PAQ is a 55-item questionnaire assessing attachment to both parents (Kenny, 1987, 1990). The scale is based on Ainsworths conceptualization of attachment and was developed for use with college students. Although the PAQ has three scales measuring the affective quality of the relationship (Quality scale), parents supportiveness (Support scale), and their encouragement of autonomy (Independence scale), only the former two scales (Quality and Support) were used in this study. In previous research by McCarthy et al. (2001) investigating a range of adult attachment measures and their relationship to affect regulation and perceived stress among college students, it was found that the quality and support scales from Kennys (1990) PAQ formed a unitary parental attachment factor and that college students with higher scores on this factor reported lower levels of perceived stress, relied less on the use of suppression to cope with negative feelings, and had greater condence in their ability to attend to and regulate negative moods. Kenny (1987) reported testretest reliability over a 2-week interval of .92 for scores on the entire instrument and between .82 and .91 for scores from the three separate scales, and Cronbachs alphas ranged from .88 to .96. In this study, Cronbachs alphas of .95 for the Quality of Relationship scale and .85 for Quality of Support scales were found. The predictive validity of the PAQ is suggested by correlations with measures of dating competence and, for females only, assertion (Kenny, 1987).

IPPA This 75-item inventory assesses both feelings and thoughts about the current parental and peer attachment of college students and adolescents (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987, 1989). There are 25 items on each of three scales measuring attachment to the mother, father, and peers (IPPA-Mother, IPPA-Father, and IPPA-Peer). Although an earlier version of the IPPA assessed attachment to parents as a single construct (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987), the authors later revised the scale to assess attachment to mother and father separately (Armsden & Greenberg, 1989). This revised version of the instrument has been used in several studies of late adolescent attachment (Brack, Gay, & Matheny, 1993; McCarthy et al., 2001). Armsden and Greenberg (1987) reported internal consistency (Cronbachs alpha) scores that ranged from .86 to .91 and testretest reliability scores over a 3-week period of .93 for their overall parental attachment scale;


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internal consistency estimates for scores from the separate mother and father scales have been reported at .89 and .88, respectively (Papini, Roggman, & Anderson, 1991). In this study, Cronbachs alpha for scores on the IPPAMother scale was .95 and .96 for scores on the IPPA-Father scale (the Peer scale was not used in this study because the focus was on parental attachment). Armsden and Greenberg (1987) provided evidence for the convergent and concurrent validity of the IPPA with signicant correlations between IPPA scores and measures of family support, conict and cohesiveness, self-esteem, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety. In addition, numerous subsequent studies have provided further evidence of the validity of the IPPA (for a review, see Lopez & Gover, 1993). PRI The PRI (McCarthy & Lambert, 2003) is an 80-item self-report measure with four primary scales measuring physical, social, and psychological assets that are useful in preventing the occurrence of life demands that exceed ones capacities for coping successfully. Respondents are asked to indicate their level of agreement with statements about personal habits relating to the prevention of stress. The Perceived Control scale measures the belief that one can cope successfully with life demands and manage situations that could potentially become stressful (sample item, I can handle most things), the Maintaining Perspective scale assesses attitudes and beliefs consistent with preventing stressful situations and keeping stress-produced emotions at manageable levels (sample item, I am able to avoid causing myself stress by keeping things in perspective), the Social Resourcefulness scale measures the ability to draw upon a social network of caring others who can act as a buffer against life demands (sample item, I have mutually supportive relationships), and the Self-Acceptance scale measures the degree to which one can accept and overcome imperfections in dealing with demanding life situations (sample item, I may not always get what I want). Internal consistency estimates for the PRI scales using college samples by McCarthy et al. (2002) found Cronbach alphas of .91 for Perceived Control, .87 for Maintaining Perspective, .87 for Social Resourcefulness, and .71 for Self-Acceptance. In this study, Cronbachs alphas were .91, .88, .87, and .73, respectively. McCarthy et al. (2002) evaluated the validity of the PRI with a sample of 501 college students. An exploratory factor analysis supported organizing the PRI into the four scales described above. Further evidence for the construct validity of the PRI was provided by theoretically consistent relationships with related constructs and by hierarchical regression analyses in which scales from the PRI predicted perceived stress levels after controlling for the incidence of negative life events.

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NMRS The NMRS is a 30-item inventory with three scales that measure perceived ability to reduce negative mood (Kirsch, Mearns, & Catanzaro, 1990). The Cognitive scale assesses condence in using cognitive strategies to reduce negative mood; the Behavior scale measures expectancies about using overt behaviors to change negative emotions; and the General scale assesses generalized beliefs that one can alter ones mood. Internal consistency estimates reported from ve separate samples found Cronbach alphas ranging from .86 to .92 (Catanzaro & Mearns, 1990). In this study, Cronbachs alphas were .76, .76, and .88 for the Cognitive, Behavior, and General scales, respectively. Catanzaro and Greenwood (1994) used a sample of college students to demonstrate that NMRS scores were positively related to active coping behaviors and negatively related to avoidant coping and stress symptoms.

UCLA LS This 20-item scale (Russell, 1996; Russell, et al., 1980, 1978) measures perceived loneliness using a 4-point scale for each item. The instrument has been used with a range of populations, including college students, nurses, teachers, and older individuals (Russell, 1996). The coefcient alphas across various populations ranged from .89 to .94, and testretest reliabilities of .73 over 12 months were found (Russell, 1996). Hartshorne (1993) reported a split-half reliability of .88 and a coefcient alpha of .90 with a college sample. Coefcient alpha in the current study was .95. Conrmatory factor analysis by the instrument authors supported the feasibility of a unidimensional factor structure. Construct validity was supported by strong positive correlations with other instruments assessing loneliness, negative correlations with measures of social support, and strong correlations in the expected directions with measures of depression, self-esteem, burnout, well-being, and health (Russell, 1996; Russell et al., 1980, 1978).

BHS This 20-item true or false scale (Beck et al., 1974) is designed to measure subjects degree of pessimism about the present situation and future. In the current study, the coefcient alpha was .88. Evidence of concurrent validity was suggested by a comparison of BHS scores with clinical ratings of hopelessness and negative attitudes about the future (Beck et al., 1974). In


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subsequent studies BHS has been found to be highly correlated with depression (Young et al., 1996). For further information about the validity and reliability of this widely used instrument, see Beck and Steer (1988).

PANAS The PANAS version used here consisted of the 13 negative adjectives included in a 22-item version of the measure (Watson et al., 1988), which the respondent rates on a 5-point scale with regard to how well each describes how he or she feels at this moment. The PANAS was developed through factor analyses of adjective ratings (Watson et al., 1988). Evidence for the reliability and validity of each scale has been supportive of its use with college students (Killgore, 2000); coefcient alpha for this study was .86.

HSC This 21-item instrument is designed to measure symptom distress. The three scales are: General Distress, Somatic Distress, and Performance Difculty (Greene et al., 1988). It was derived through factor analysis from a longer inventory using samples of patients, nurses, and college students in both America and New Zealand. A fourth sample was used to assess the instruments reliability. The Cronbachs alphas for the scores were .85 for Performance Difculty, .75 for Somatic Distress, .86 for General Distress, and .90 for Total Distress .90. In the current study the Cronbachs alphas were .92 for the all items on the measure, .83 for Performance Difculty, .84 for Somatic Distress, and .88 for General Distress. Validity of the HSC is suggested by the fact that the total HSC distress score successfully discriminated between a clinical and nonclinical population sample and was sensitive to changes in distress over the course of therapy (Deane, Leathem, & Spicer, 1992).

RESULTS Preliminary Analyses

Correlations between the variables included in this study are displayed in Table 1. As expected, observed variables are correlated more highly with variables hypothesized to contribute to the same latent construct than across variables measuring different latent constructs. For example, the scales from

Table 1 Intercorrelation Matrix for Study Measures

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 0.769 0.621 0.786 0.510 0.470 0.575 0.457 0.546 0.484 0.520 0.304 0.327 0.687 0.799 0.546 0.515 0.574 0.384 0.522 0.496 0.462 0.213 0.284 0.683 0.448 0.566 0.454 0.354 0.474 0.637 0.423 0.253 0.258 0.477 0.442 0.520 0.375 0.533 0.515 0.444 0.292 0.291 0.642 0.785 0.421 0.504 0.455 0.524 0.291 0.333 0.659 0.450 0.549 0.618 0.494 0.300 0.364 0.500 0.528 0.549 0.665 0.352 0.432 0.455 0.423 0.585 0.565 0.502 0.532 0.507 0.338 0.422


0.732 0.787 0.619 0.313 0.363 0.415 0.381 0.306 0.363 0.358 0.333 0.455 0.455 0.507 0.255 0.342

0.682 0.536 0.244 0.304 0.426 0.357 0.269 0.353 0.238 0.115 0.358 0.402 0.142 0.070 0.148

0.445 0.287 0.311 0.412 0.362 0.257 0.347 0.324 0.212 0.361 0.399 0.254 0.214 0.243

0.273 0.274 0.327 0.342 0.269 0.291 0.303 0.245 0.266 0.396 0.296 0.214 0.295

0.645 0.379 0.465

0.531 0.606


Note. r values .1 are not statistically signicant; r value .11 is statistically signicant at p .05;. r value .14 or greater is statistically signicant at p .01. PAQ-Q. PAQ-S Parental Attachment Questionnaire Quality and Support scales, respectively; IPPA-M, IPPA-F Inventory of Parental and Peer Attachment (IPPA) Maternal and Paternal scales, respectively; PRI-PC, PRI-MP, PRI-SR, PRI-AC Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) Perceived Control. Maintaining Perspective, Social Resourcefulness, and Acceptance scales, respectively; NMRS-C, NMRS-B, NMRS-G Negative Mood Regulation (NMRS) Cognitive, Behavior, and General Scales, respectively; PANAS Negative Affect Scale from the Positive and Negative Affect Scale; BHS Beck Hopelessness Scale, LS UCLA Loneliness Scale; and HSC-G, HSC-SD, HSC-PD Hopkins Symptom Checklist General. Somatic Distress, and Performance Difculties scales, respectively.



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the PAQ and the IPPA were correlated moderately to highly (r .536 .787). A similar pattern was observed among the NMRS scales (r .642.785) and the PRI scales (r .448 .799), whereas the correlations between observed variables hypothesized to load on different latent constructs were in the low to moderate range. The correlation matrices of observed variables for males and females were compared to determine whether gender was associated with any of the relationships under investigation. All of the corresponding male and female bivariate correlation coefcients were in the same direction and of the same general magnitude. Therefore, separate models for males and females were not estimated nor was gender entered into the SEM.


The sample covariance matrix was estimated by PRELIS, whereas the model parameters were estimated using LISREL 8 (Jo reskog, & So rbom, 1993). Hypothesized structural models are supported whether the overall t of the model to the observed data is adequate and if the relevant structural coefcients between latent variables are statistically signicant and in the predicted direction (Bollen, 1989). The maximum likelihood solution provides an approximate chi-square statistic that can be used to evaluate model t (Bollen, 1989). The use of several t indices in addition to the chi-square statistic is recommended because the test can be overly sensitive to departures in model t for large sample sizes and violations of statistical assumptions (Bollen, 1989; Hayduk, 1987). Several goodness-of-t indices were therefore used to evaluate models in this study: goodness-of-t index (GFI; Jo reskog, & So rbom, 1993); adjusted goodness-of-t index (AGFI; Jo reskog & So rbom, 1993); normed t index (NFI; Bentler & Bonett, 1980); and the non-normed t index (NNFI; Tucker & Lewis, 1973). A useful general guideline for judging adequacy of t is a value of .90 or higher (Bollen, 1989). The standardized root-mean-square residual (SRMR; Steiger, 1990) and root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) were also used to judge model t, with a useful general guideline for evaluating adequate model t of observed values .05 for good t and .10 for moderate t. In addition, chi-square/degrees of freedom values were used as an index for judging model t. According to Hayduk (1987), chi-square/degrees of freedom values 5 can be used to as a guideline for evaluating acceptable model t. Once the measurement models had been tested and found to be adequate, two structural models were tested in an effort to demonstrate evidence in support of the hypothesized mediation model (see Figure 1). Table 2 contains

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Table 2 Standardized Path Coecients From Latent Variables to Observed Variables for Each Model Latent variable Stress symptoms models Attachment Observed variables PAQ-Q PAQ-S IPPA-M IPPA-F PRI-PC PRI-MP PRI-SR PRI-AC NMRS-C NMRS-B NMRS-G HSC-G HSC-SD HSC-PD Step 1 coefcients 0.96 0.78 0.78 0.64 Step 2 coefcients 0.92 0.80 0.81 0.68 0.85 0.88 0.75 0.87 0.85 0.75 0.93 0.91 0.59 0.67 Step 3 coefcients 0.92 0.80 0.81 0.68 0.84 0.88 0.75 0.87 0.85 0.75 0.93 0.90 0.60 0.68

Preventive Coping

Negative Mood Regulation Expectancies

Stress Symptoms

0.76 0.67 0.79

Stress-produced emotions models Attachment

Preventive Coping


0.93 0.80 0.81 0.67

0.92 0.80 0.81 0.68 0.86 0.86 0.75 0.87 0.85 0.78 0.91 0.63 0.74 0.71

0.92 0.80 0.81 0.68 0.86 0.87 0.75 0.87 0.85 0.78 0.91 0.63 0.74 0.72

Negative Mood Regulation Expectancies

Stress-Produced Emotions

0.63 0.77 0.68

Note. PAQ-Q, PAQ-S Parental Attachment Questionnaire Quality and Support scales, respectively; IPPA-M, IPPA-F Inventory of Parental and Peer Attachment (IPPA) Maternal and Paternal scales, respectively; PRI-PC, PRI-MP, PRI-SR, PRI-AC Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) Perceived Control, Maintaining Perspective, Social Resourcefulness, and Acceptance scales, respectively; NMRS-C, NMRS-B, NMRS-G Negative Mood Regulation (NMRS) Cognitive, Behavior, and General Scales, respectively; PANAS Negative Affect Scale from the Positive and Negative Affect Scale; BHS Beck Hopelessness Scale, LS UCLA Loneliness Scale; and HSC-G, HSC-SD, HSC-PD Hopkins Symptom Checklist General, Somatic Distress, and Performance Difculties scales, respectively.

the standardized coefcients that are used to estimate the strength of the paths from each latent variable to its component observed variables. As expected, the magnitude and direction of these coefcients remained very similar across the various models that were tested. The only exception was the


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General Distress scale of the HSC, which contributed more heavily to the latent variable in Steps 2 and 3. In addition, these coefcients illustrate that the Quality scale from the PAQ was most strongly weighted in the attachment latent variable as was the General scale from the NMRS in the negative mood regulation construct. The intent of this investigation was to determine whether preventive coping resources and negative mood regulation expectancies mediated the relationship between the antecedent variable, parental attachment, and the two outcome variables, stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions. To evaluate whether there was a mediation effect in each of the models tested, the guidelines set forth by Baron and Kenny (1986) and Holmbeck (1997) were used, which involve meeting three conditions. Next the conditions are dened as they apply to the present study. The rst condition requires that the antecedent variable (parental attachment) is directly associated with each of the two outcome variables for both models tested (models using stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions as the outcome variables). For each model, the path between the antecedent variable, parental attachment, and the outcome variable (stress symptoms or stress-produced emotions) was tested. These path coefcients were statistically signicant, in the hypothesized direction, and as shown in Figure 1 (see Models tested at Step 1) were moderate in strength (.45 and .56 for stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, respectively). The indexes of t for the two models, stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, respectively, indicated good t (GFI .95/.97, AGFI .90/.92, NFI .94/.96, NNFI .92/.95, SRMR .06/.05, RMSEA .11/.09, and 2/df 2.23/4.09). Next, the hypothesized mediators, Preventive Coping Resources (PCR) and NMR expectancies were added to both models (see Models tested at Step 2 in Figure 1): values for the path from attachment to PCR were .44 and .45 for stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, respectively, and values for the path from attachment to NMR expectancies were .13 and .14 for stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, respectively. A path modeling a direct inuence from PCR to NMR expectancies was also included, with a value of .66 for both models. Paths from attachment to PCR and NMR expectancies as well as from NMR expectancies and PCR to both stress outcomes were statistically signicant and in the hypothesized directions. The indexes of t for the two models, stress symptoms and stressproduced emotions, respectively, indicated moderate to good t (GFI .90/.88, AGFI .85/.82, NFI .92/.90, NNFI .92/.90, SRMR .06/.06, RMSEA .09/.10, and 2/df 4.29/5.11). In the third set of models (see Models tested at Step 3 in Figure 1), the direct path from attachment to stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions was added to the mediational model and found to be substantially reduced from its original magnitude (.45 to .11 and .56 to .20, respectively). In addition, the indexes of t

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for these two models, stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, respectively, indicated very similar levels of t (GFI .90/.89, AGFI .85/.83, NFI .92/.91, NNFI .92/.90, SRMR .06/.05, RMSEA .09/.10, and 2/df 4.16/4.92). For all three models, the t was slightly better for the stress-related symptoms models than for the stress-related emotions models.


The models tested in this study, in which PCR and self-reported NMR expectancies were hypothesized to mediate the relationship between parental attachment and stress outcomes, demonstrated adequate to good t with the data. Both models were associated with a proportion of total covariance and variance, and the magnitude of the paths between constructs, while moderate in most cases, was convincing. The results suggested that the conditions for mediation outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986) and Holmbeck (1997) were met and that, as hypothesized, the relationship between parental attachment and both stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions were mediated by preventive coping resources and negative mood regulation expectancies. The nding that students with lower levels of parental attachment may possess lower levels of psychological resources and exhibit more vulnerability to stress symptoms is not particularly surprising given previous research indicating that adult capacities for coping with stress develop from early interactions with ones caregivers (Mikulincer & Florian, 1998). However, this study contributes to the literature in two important ways: (a) by clarifying the roles of two important types of resources (PCR and NMR expectancies) in mediating stress outcomes and (b) by examining whether this relationship varies as a function of the type of stress outcome (i.e., stress symptoms or stress-produced emotions). With regard to the mediational roles of PCR and NMR expectancies, the data suggested a direct relationship between these constructs. This outcome could support the hypothesis that mood-regulation expectancies derive not only from ones attachment history, but also are due at least in part to the belief that one has sufcient preventive coping resources for dealing with stressful situations. In support of this notion, Catanzaro and Greenwood (1994) suggested that generalized expectancies for successfully regulating emotions would develop from the belief that one has sufcient coping resources to do so and that such expectancies are directly related to the emotional outcome of coping processes (p. 34). It seems reasonable to consider, based on these results, the fact that study participants who grew up with secure parental attachments may have developed mood regulation expectancies indirectly through the development of preventive coping re-


McCarthy, Lambert, and Moller

sources such as those examined in this study (i.e., Perceived Control, Maintaining Perspective, Social Resourcefulness, and Self-Acceptance). However, to test this proposition more fully, future research would need to specically test whether PCR mediate the relationship between parental attachment and NMR expectancies. It is interesting to note that there were few substantial differences in the t statistics found for the models using stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions as outcomes, and the exact same paths were statistically signicant for both models (see Figure 1). However, although the strength of the relationships among the constructs was generally comparable, some notable differences did emerge in the pattern of relationships between the mediator constructs and the outcomes. First, although the strength of the relationship between NMR expectancies and both types of stress outcomes was nearly identical at Step 2 (.59 and .58 for stress-produced symptoms and emotions respectively, see Figure 1), differences in the magnitude of these relationships were observed between the construct of preventive coping resources and the two outcomes (.23 and .39 for stress-produced symptoms and emotions respectively, see Figure 1). This was surprising, since the preventive coping resources construct was specied in terms of a range of capacities, including perceptions of control over life events and the ability to maintain perspective in the face of life demands. In contrast, the NMR expectancies construct was more narrowly dened in terms of condence in ones cognitive and behavioral strategies for alleviating negative mood states. Given this more narrow denition, it might have been expected that a stronger relationship would emerge between NMR expectancies and the outcome of stress-produced emotions than between NMR expectancies and stress symptoms. Instead, this pattern occurred with the mediator of PCR, although it should be noted that the magnitude of the paths between NMR expectancies and both outcomes was stronger than was the case for preventive coping resources. Taken together, these results could support the hypothesis that PCR serve as a foundation for mood regulation expectancies. Future research, perhaps using a longitudinal design in which the development of both types of capacities is assessed, would be necessary to further test this possibility. A less surprising nding is that parental attachment was found to have a stronger relationship to the outcome of stress-produced emotions than stress symptoms, both in Step 1 of the model without the inclusion of the mediators and after the mediators were entered at Step 3 (see Figure 1). Attachment, which is conceptualized as the emotional bond experienced with another who is sensed as a source of security and who provides a secure base anchoring exploration (Bowlby, 1979), is hypothesized to exert this continuing inuence on emotional functioning because early childhood attachment experiences lead to the formation of rules and strategies for handling emotions that

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can persist across the life span. Therefore, it is not surprising that ones attachment history would have a stronger relationship to stress-produced emotions than symptoms. Given the study limitations of a relatively homogenous sample collected over the course of two semesters and the reliance of the study on self-report instruments, it will be important to test this model with more diverse samples and experimental methods that allow for rmer conclusions about causality. The ndings were replicated with both stress symptoms and stress-produced emotions, and it may not be necessary to generate separate models for each outcome in future research. However, because the results achieved moderate to good t, there is clearly a need for future research to better explain the relationships among the constructs examined. For example, given that variables such as loneliness, negative affect, and hopelessness were included in the stress-produced emotion construct, it might be benecial to examine in future research whether specic types of preventive coping resources (i.e., measures of social functioning, optimism, etc.) and NMR expectancies have a differential relationship to each type of measure. In addition, whereas parental attachment was used as the antecedent construct in this study, other aspects of attachment relationships such as attachment to peers and romantic partners, could be investigated.

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