Insecure Attachment and Personality Pathology: Concurrent Assessment and Longitudinal Modeling

Madison Shea Smith*, Susan C. South

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insecure attachment and personality pathology are parallel frameworks for representing interpersonal dysfunction. Although research to date has revealed strong bivariate associations between these constructs, the current state of the science is nonspecific and leaves piecemeal guidance for clinical and empirical efforts. The goal of the present study was to determine the magnitude of the associations between attachment and personality pathology across two conceptualizations of maladaptivity and across three waves of time, thereby satisfying repeated calls for empirical innovation in this area. A sample of newlywed heterosexual couples (N = 202 individuals) completed longitudinal assessments of personality pathology and romantic attachment insecurity. Results suggested that the covariation of attachment and personality pathology may be marred by measurement problems related to distress saturation in attachment and personality disorder instruments. Latent curve modeling further suggested that attachment insecurity and personality disorders fluctuate concurrently within persons. Future research should work toward validating unity models of attachment and personality pathology, correcting key measures, and documenting specific mechanisms of association between these constructs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Couples
  • Insecure attachment
  • Longitudinal
  • Personality pathology
  • Within-person

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Insecure Attachment and Personality Pathology: Concurrent Assessment and Longitudinal Modeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this