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Pain Research and Management
Volume 15 (2010), Issue 6, Pages 378-384
Original Article

Associations between Adult Attachment Dimensions And Attitudes Toward Pain Behaviour

Lachlan A McWilliams, Paul DJ Murphy, and S Jeffrey Bailey

Department of Psychology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Despite the important role positive reinforcement of pain behaviour is believed to play in chronic pain, there is a paucity of research regarding factors that influence the provision of such reinforcement. Attachment theory suggests that individuals high in attachment avoidance view the pain behaviour of others in a negative manner and would, therefore, provide little reinforcement of pain behaviour. As an initial step in evaluating this model, relationships between attachment dimensions and attitudes toward pain behaviour were examined. Attachment avoidance was hypothesized to be negatively associated with accepting attitudes toward pain behaviour.

METHODS: A sample of undergraduate students (n=160) completed the Relationships Structures Questionnaire, which provides global ratings of adult attachment dimensions (anxiety and avoidance) by assessing attachment across four relationship targets (friend, mother, father and romantic partner). Attitudes regarding the acceptability of pain behaviour were assessed using male and female versions of the Appropriate Pain Behaviour Questionnaire (APBQ).

RESULTS: Consistent with the hypothesis, attachment avoidance was negatively correlated with both APBQ-Female and APBQ-Male scores. Multiple regression analyses were used to investigate the relationships between the attachment scales and the APBQ scales while statistically adjusting for sex and testing for interaction effects. The findings revealed complex relationships involving interaction effects that provided further support for the hypothesis.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings provided support for the hypothesis that attachment avoidance is associated with less accepting attitudes toward pain behaviour. Additional research regarding the role of attachment and attitudes on responses to pain behaviour is warranted.