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Jeffrey Jensen Arnett


Emerging adulthood is a defining period for individuals aged 18-29, marked by unpredictability and excitement as individuals figure out the paths their lives will take with regard to work, relationships, and other domains (Arnett, 2004). The present study investigated associations between attachment style and level of self-esteem for emerging adults, and also attempted to understand the bi-directional influence of developmental stages on attachment style and self-esteem. In addition, the study explored if and how one’s presence in a romantic partnership, whether that partnership be stable or unstable, mediated these relationships. 199 emerging adults completed Levine and Heller’s attachment questionnaire which originated from the Experience in Close Relationships questionnaire (ECR), the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, and the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood. Findings uphold that secure attachment may help to incline individuals towards positive, or healthy self-esteem during emerging adulthood, and anxious attachment may incline individuals to negative or low self-esteem. Avoidant attachment was not linked to self-esteem. Secure attachment was found to be linked to the “self-focused” phase, in addition to the “in-between stage;” self-focusedness was also negatively linked to securely attached individual’s self-esteem. Being in a stable romantic relationship in emerging adulthood was found to have a statistically significant positive impact on the self-esteem of secures. Finally, being “other-focused” and an “experimenter” was found to be linked to one’s presence in a stable romantic relationship, and being self-focused was linked to one’s presence in a more unstable relationship.

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