Parental Divorce and Romantic Attachment in Young Adulthood: Important Role of Problematic Beliefs

Rosemary Bernstein, Dacher Keltner, Heidemarie Laurent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the current study 45 university students with either divorced or continuously married parents were surveyed about their romantic attachment, positive emotionality, depressive symptomology, self-esteem, and, when applicable, their retrospective beliefs about their parents' marital dissolution. Findings revealed that parental divorce did not predict attachment insecurity, depression, or low self-esteem. In fact, adult children of divorced parents (ACDP) reported increased compassion, awe, enthusiasm, and perspective taking. Among ACDP, a composite factor representing increased fear of abandonment, peer rejection, and maternal blame was positively associated with adult attachment anxiety, even while controlling for parental conflict and divorce-related socioenvironmental disruption. Results are discussed in terms of their support of a complex understanding of the long-term effects of parental divorce, and in their inconsistency with a purely pathogenic model of parental divorce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-731
Number of pages21
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • parental divorce
  • positive outcomes
  • romantic attachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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