By Amanda Ng ’17
Past research has shown that for most people, financial stress can lead to certain maladaptive behaviors, such as negative feelings or aversion of this stress altogether. However, some individuals seem to be more susceptible to financial stress than others. Psychologists have explored several theories concerning this susceptibility, one of which involves analyzing an individual’s level of attachment anxiety and higher levels of financial stress.
Researchers at the University of Bedfordshire collected data from 162 undergraduates concerning their level of attachment anxiety and financial aversion to study a possible relation. The assay in the investigation entailed the Adult Attachment Scale, an 18-item questionnaire measured on a five-point Likert scale that assesses anxiety, dependency, and closeness. Researchers also administered the Financial Aversion Scale, a 5-item questionnaire meant to measure disinterest, avoidance, guilt, fatalism, and anxiety concerning their finances to measure financial aversion. General anxiety was controlled for by applying Beck Anxiety Inventory, which is a 21-item checklist focusing on symptoms of panic and agoraphobia displayed within the last week.
After statistical analysis, the researchers’ findings supported the theory that attachment anxiety is correlated with financial aversion (t = 3.54, p < .001). Individuals with attachment anxiety still experience higher levels of financial aversion even when controlled for similar levels of general anxiety. Considering previous work, it may be theorized that because anxiously attached individuals tend to use avoidance behaviors as strategies for dealing with stress, they experience more financial difficulties, which can lead to increases in financial aversion.
Despite solidifying the link between anxiety and financial aversion, this study had a few limitations. As the participants were all undergraduates at the same university, the generalizability of these findings are very limited. In addition, data was obtained using self-report questionnaires, which are limited in terms of reliability. Future research should focus on using longitudinal data to provide a more comprehensive picture of all the causes of financial aversion.
- A. Sochos, E. Latchford. Financial Aversion and Its Link to Attachment Anxiety. Current Psychology 35, 606-614 (2016). doi: 10.1007/s12144-015-9327-9.
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