Insecure Attachment Orientation and Well-Being in Emerging Adults: The Roles of Perceived Social Support and Fatigue

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Attachment theory posits that insecure attachment orientations reflect activation of the attachment behavioural system, and therefore deactivation of its complementary counterpart the exploration system, which is associated with feeling less energized. We hypothesized that less perceived social support and higher fatigue would prospectively explain the link between insecure attachment and well-being in emerging adulthood (ages 18–25), a period in which exploration and social relationships are critical. Participants aged 18–25 completed surveys initially and two weeks later (N=153). Temporal multiple mediation revealed that, at T1, both forms of insecure attachment (anxious and avoidant) were associated with lower T2 well-being, with less perceived social support and higher levels of fatigue each uniquely explaining these associations, after controlling for the effects of each form of attachment on the other. Our findings suggest that deactivation of the exploration system and information processing biases regarding the availability and trustworthiness of others may compromise well-being for emerging adults with an insecure attachment orientation.