Attachment Mediates Effects of Childhood Emotional Abuse and Trust Among African Americans

Adrienne Erby, Tennessee State University


Until recently, few researchers have examined the exact effect of parents’ emotional abuse of their offspring among minority groups. In accordance with existing literature and theory, Riggs (2010) proposed a model that follows the developmental consequences of emotional abuse experienced during childhood emotional abuse which recognizes attachment theory as a primary link to interpersonal functioning in adulthood. According to the model, the experience of childhood emotional abuse adds to insecure attachment. Additionally, research has illustrated that victims of childhood emotional abuse have a higher chance of developing psychological distress in emerging adulthood, including interpersonal deficits (Erozkan, 2016) marked by distrust (Rempel et al., 1985). The present study examined whether insecure attachment acted as a mediator between childhood emotional and romantic partner trust in adulthood among an African Americans. Participants were 214 adults in the general population, who completed measures of insecure attachment style, childhood emotional abuse, and romantic partner trust. Multiple mediation analyses were performed to examine the effects of the mediation models hypothesized in the study. Childhood emotional abuse was revealed to be a significant predictor of insecure attachment style; however, the variable was not a predictor of trust in romantic relationships. Consequently, evidence for a mediation effect was not supported. Taken cautiously, the findings both support and are inconsistent with prior literature.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Mental health|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Adrienne Erby, "Attachment Mediates Effects of Childhood Emotional Abuse and Trust Among African Americans" (2023). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI30316561.