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Behav Genet. 2011 Jul;41(4):488-98. doi: 10.1007/s10519-010-9428-z. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Adult romantic attachment, negative emotionality, and depressive symptoms in middle aged men: a multivariate genetic analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0738, USA.


Adult romantic attachment styles reflect ways of relating in close relationships and are associated with depression and negative emotionality. We estimated the extent to which dimensions of romantic attachment and negative emotionality share genetic or environmental risk factors in 1,237 middle-aged men in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA). A common genetic factor largely explained the covariance between attachment-related anxiety, attachment-related avoidance, depressive symptoms, and two measures of negative emotionality: Stress-Reaction (anxiety), and Alienation. Multivariate results supported genetic and environmental differences in attachment. Attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance were each influenced by additional genetic factors not shared with other measures; the genetic correlation between the attachment measure-specific genetic factors was 0.41, indicating some, but not complete overlap of genetic factors. Genetically informative longitudinal studies on attachment relationship dimensions can help to illuminate the role of relationship-based risk factors in healthy aging.

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