Relationship between attachment and depression mediating factors

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Lee J. Dixon


The current investigation examined various factors that affect one's likelihood to forgive his or her romantic partner for a specific transgression, and in turn, how not forgiving affect's one's well-being. Previous research has shown that there are associations between attachment styles, empathy, rumination, and one's trait forgiveness (Burnette, Davis, Green, Worthington, & Bradfield, 2009). We hypothesized that these same factors may be associated with episodic forgiveness. Additionally, to our knowledge only one research study found that withholding forgiveness is associated with reduced martial satisfaction, which, in turn, was associated with increased levels of depression (Dixon, Gordon, & Hughes, 2007). We hypothesized that above and beyond ones trait forgiveness, not forgiving a specific transgression would be associated with relationship satisfaction, and in turn, would be associated with depression. Participants (N=209; M= 110, F= 99) completed a battery of self-report questionnaires. Mediational analyses were completed using the Bootstrapping approach (Preacher & Hayes, 2008). Results revealed that one's attachment style is associated with one's current level of empathy and ruminating behaviors, which, in turn, is associated with one's likelihood to forgive his or her partner for a specific transgression. Additionally, while controlling for one's tendency to forgive, not forgiving a specific transgression is associated with lower relationship satisfaction, which in turn is associated with higher levels of depression. These findings reveal the influence of one's attachment style on one's forgiveness of a transgression and subsequently on one's mental and relationship health.


Forgiveness Psychological aspects Research, Attachment behavior Research, Depression, Mental Risk factors Research, Interpersonal relations Psychological aspects Research, Relationship quality Research

Rights Statement

Copyright 2011, author