Investigating the relationships among breathing, attachment, and emotion-regulation

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jamie E. Crockett (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Cashwell

Abstract: The escalating prevalence of psychological distress among young adults is a systemic issue with a generational impact as evidenced by patterns of insecure attachment, maladaptive self-regulation, and, accordingly, mental health problems (Stallard, Norman, Huline-Dickens, Salter, & Cribb, 2004). There is a call for holistic approaches to prevention, assessment, and treatment that reduce the occurrence and impact of mental health problems among adults and their families (WHO, 2004). As such, researchers have identified a need to investigate the psychobiology of attachment (Diamond & Hicks, 2004), including emotional and physiological processes involved in self-regulation. Breathing is a physiological process that is critical to both physiological (Courtney, Cohen, & van Dixhoorn, 2011a) and emotional regulation (Koole, 2009). Exploration of the psychobiology of attachment could inform the advancement of holistic strategies in mental health (Diamond & Fagundes, 2010) and breathing appears to be a logical construct for examination in this context. An exploratory cross-sectional correlational study was used to examine the relationships among the variables of adult romantic attachment, emotion-regulation difficulty, and symptoms of dysfunctional breathing in a sample of 203 young adults. Results of Pearson correlations indicated that there were statistically significant bivariate positive relationships among attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, difficulty regulating emotion, symptoms of hyperventilation, and symptoms of dysfunctional breathing. Three one-way ANOVA's indicated that there were significant differences in scores of attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and difficulty in emotion regulation among individuals who reported symptoms of hyperventilation who indicated either normal, mild, or clinically significant symptoms. The results of two multiple regression analyses indicated that a significant portion of the variance in both attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety was accounted for by symptoms of hyperventilation. Another multiple regression indicated that attachment dimensions, dysfunctional breathing, and hyperventilation accounted for 45% of the variance in emotion regulation difficulty. A hierarchical multiple regression indicated that the relationship between dysfunctional breathing, hyperventilation, and difficulty regulating emotion was not moderated by attachment insecurity. Though causal conclusions cannot be drawn, these results indicate preliminary support that addressing issues of dysfunctional breathing could complement mental health approaches aimed at promoting secure attachment and adaptive self-regulation.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Attachment, Breath, Emotion-regulation, Mind-body, Respiration, Self-regulation
Emotions in adolescence $x Psychological aspects
Attachment behavior in adolescence
Hyperventilation $x Psychosomatic aspects

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