Autonomic correlates of attachment insecurity in a sample of women with eating disorders

Pedro Diasa, Isabel Soaresb, John Kleinc, João P.S. Cunhad, Glenn I. Roismane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study examined associations between attachment insecurity and autonomic response during the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) in a sample of 47 women with eating disorders using a new system for the synchronous acquisition of behavioral and physiological data: the Bio Dual-channel and Representation of Attachment Multimedia System (BioDReAMS; Soares, Cunha, Zhan Jian Li, Pinho, & Neves, 1998). Consistent with the emerging literature on the psychophysiology of adult attachment, insecurity was positively correlated with electrodermal reactivity during the AAI. Furthermore, relatively secure patients showed some evidence of parasympathetic withdrawal, which can be conceptualized as evidence of more effective emotion regulation. Results suggest that, even among women with diagnosed psychopathology, security is associated with more productive patterns of psychophysiological response to attachment-related challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors want to thank the patients who participated in this work and the following psychiatrists and psychologists responsible for the treatment of these patients: Dr. António Roma Torres and Dr. Isabel Brandão (S. João Hospital, Portugal), Dr. Pedro Monteiro and Dr. Dulce Soeiro (Maria Pia Hospital, Portugal), and Dr. Sónia Gonc¸ alves (University of Minho, Portugal). Data collection and analysis were only possible with the help of all of the Attachment Research Group members in the University of Minho, Portugal. This research was conducted while the first author, Pedro Dias, was sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT doctoral grant SFRH/6944/2001). Financial support for the research project was also provided by Bial Foundation (grants 43/96 and 25/02).


  • Adult attachment interview
  • Autonomic correlates of attachment
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychophysiology


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