In Search of Sexcurity: Does Mindfulness Buffer the Manifestations of Attachment Insecurity in Relationship and Sexual Functioning?

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Consedine, Nathan
dc.contributor.advisor Reynolds, Lisa Dixon, Holly Claire 2023-11-13T20:58:33Z 2023-11-13T20:58:33Z 2022 en
dc.description.abstract Attachment insecurities have the potential to interfere with optimal relational and sexual functioning. Despite the established links between attachment characteristics and poorer relational and sexual functioning, evidence regarding how we might seek to buffer the negative manifestations of attachment insecurities in interpersonal functioning is sorely lacking. The work presented in this thesis contributes to this research deficit by using a series of cross-sectional, intensive longitudinal, and interventional studies to investigate whether trait mindfulness and/or mindfulness training (a) buffer the sexual and relational manifestations of attachment insecurities and (b) do so equally for attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. The first empirical contribution (Study 1; Chapter 3) found that trait mindfulness reduced the expression of anxious attachment in maladaptive sexual motivations, including having sex to affirm the self and cope. In contrast, trait mindfulness intensified the link between avoidant attachment and typically less-adaptive sexual motives, including having sex for self-affirmation and coping-based motives. A second study employing an intensive daily diary methodology (Chapter 4) found that facets of trait mindfulness eliminated the relationship between attachment anxiety and daily motives to have sex to prevent a partner from losing interest and reduced the degree to which persons high in attachment anxiety reported having sex to please a partner. Unexpectedly, trait mindfulness also reduced the likelihood that more anxiously attached individuals reported engaging in sex to pursue their own pleasure. However, more consistent with expectation, trait mindfulness appeared to marginally increase more avoidant persons reporting of daily motives to have sex due to feelings of obligation. Using an experimental design to conduct secondary analyses of a large mindfulness intervention study, Study 3 (Chapter 5) found that persons who were more anxiously attached at baseline reported greater reductions in rejection fears and conflict (and greater increases in connection) following a mindfulness intervention, though, adding a conceptually important caveat, comparable benefits were evident among persons randomized to receive a relaxation intervention. Both interventions appeared to offer some slightly greater benefits among more avoidant persons; however, these benefits were not maintained at follow-up. Finally, returning to the focus on sexuality, Study 4 found that a mindfulness intervention increased reports of positive sexuality among more anxious persons over time, though it did not buffer less adaptive sexual motives in this group. Corroborating previous studies in this thesis, however, no benefits of the mindfulness intervention were detected for more avoidant persons. Taken together, these studies cohere in suggesting that openly attending to (negative) experiences through a lens of acceptance can buffer the degree to which attachment anxiety “bleeds out” into typically more detrimental sexual and relational experiences. However, mindfulness may be less well-suited to attenuating the manifestations of attachment avoidance. Further work is required to elucidate the “dose” of mindfulness required for change to occur, especially in relationally threatening situations, and the comparison of mindfulness to active controls continues to be necessary to determine whether (and for which outcomes) mindfulness is specifically beneficial to anxiously attached individuals. Given the difficulties associated with insecure attachment and the relative absence of work testing how the effects of anxiety and avoidance on relational functioning might be buffered, this work represents an important beginning to addressing whom mindfulness’ interpersonal effects are best suited to. The data thus have the potential to inform interventions and therapies designed to reduce the adverse relational and sexual correlates of attachment insecurity.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
dc.rights.uri en
dc.title In Search of Sexcurity: Does Mindfulness Buffer the Manifestations of Attachment Insecurity in Relationship and Sexual Functioning?
dc.type Thesis en Health Psychology The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en 2023-11-08T08:00:37Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights en

Files in this item

Find Full text

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record


Search ResearchSpace