Relationship between parenting, alexithymia and adult attachment styles: a cross-national study in Sicilian and Andalusian young adults

Monica Pellerone, Ivan Formica, Monica Hernandez Lopez, Simona Migliorisi, Riccardo Granà


Background: Literature underline that attachment styles can be considered as an important factor that facilitates exploration of the self and environment, and influences individual’s thoughts, feelings and behavior, above all during adolescence.

The purposes of the present study were the following: to investigate the relation between parenting, alexithymia and adult attachment styles; to measure the predictive variables of the adult attachment-related anxiety and avoidance, and the predictors of the level of alexithymia.

Method: The participants were 217 students, of which: a group of 97 Andalusian academic students (44.7%), aged between 18 and 29 (M = 19.47; SD = 2.23); a group of 120 students from Sicilian academic students (55.3%), aged between 18 and 23 (M = 18.85; SD = 1.11).

The participants were assigned to complete the following questionnaires: the Parental Bonding Instrument, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, and the Experience in Close Relationships.

Results: Findings suggest that there are differences between Italy and Spain in adult attachment styles: in particular, Italian students appeared to manifest a higher tendency to use the avoidance style than Spanish ones, which manifested a higher level of anxiety. Furthermore, belonging to the Andalusian culture, and above all, having an elevated perception of the paternal and maternal overprotection could represent possible predictive variables to the general level of alexithymia.

Conclusions: The results of this study support the research hypothesis that alexithymia is associated with the perceived parental bonding and attachment style.


Parenting; Alexithymia; Adult attachment; Spain; Italy

Full Text:



Ainsworth, M.S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 44, 4, 709-716.

Aust, S., Hartwing, E., Koelsh, S., Hekeren, H., Heuser, I., & Ba-jbouj, M. (2013). how emotional abilities modulate the influence of early life stress on hippocampal functioning. Social Cognitive and affective neuroscience Advance, 1038-1045.

Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244.

Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior. Child Development, 37(4), 887-907.

Baumrind, D. (1968). Authoritarian vs. authoritative parental control. Adolescence, 3, 255 - 272.

Belsky, J. & Nezworski, T. (1988). Clinical Implication of Attachment. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale.

Bornstein, M. (2002). Handbook of parenting. London: Erlbaum.

Borsa, J.C., & Nunes, M. L. (2011). Aspectos psicossociais da parentalidade: O papel. Psicol. Argum., Curitiba, 31-39.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss. Vol. I. Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Bowlby, J. (1972, 1975,1983). Attaccamento e perdita. Torino: Boringhieri.

Bressi, C., Taylor, G.J., Parker, J.D.A., Bressi, S., Brambilla, V., Aguglia, E., & Invernizzi, G. (1996). Cross validation of the factor structure of the 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale: an Italian multicenter study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 41, 551-559.

Caretti, V., & Barbera, D. L. (2005). Alessitimia. Valutazione e trattamento. Roma: Editrice Astrolabio.

Cassidiy, J., & Shaver, R.R. (2008). Handbook of attachment: Theory research and clinical applications. New York: The Guilford Press.

Eizaguirre, A. E. (2002). Alexitimia y relaciones de pareja. Psicothema, 14 (4).

Frawley, W., & Smith, R.N. (2001). A processing theory of alexithymia. Cognitive Systems Research, 2, 189-206.

Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. J Pers Soc Psychol, 52, 511–524.

Hussian, S., & Hamed, Z. (2014). parental acceptance-rejection as predictor of alexithymia among students in gilgit-pakistan. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 285-288.

Karukivi, M. (2011). Associations between alexithymia and mental well-being in adolescents. Finland: University of Turku, Unit of Adolescent Psychiatry.

LeVine, R. (1974). Parental Goals: a cross-cultural view. The Family as educator. New York: College Press.

Levy, D.M. (1931). Maternal overprotection and rejection. Archives of neurology and psychiatry. 25, 886-889.

Lumley, M., Mader, C., Gramzow, J., & Papineau, K. (1996). Family Factors Related To Alexithymia Characteristics. Psychosomatic Medicine, 58, 211-216.

Mattila, A.K., & Joukamaa, J. S. M. (2006). Age is strongly associated with alexithymia in the general population. J Psychosom Res, 61, 629-635.

Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., & Slav, K. (2006). Attachment, mental representations of others, and forgiveness in romantic relationships. In M. Mikulincer & G. S. Goodman (Eds.) Dynamics of romantic love: Attachment caregiving, and sex (pp. 190–215). New York:Guilford Press.

Miller, A. (1987). Cognitive Styles: An Integrated Model. Educational Psychology, 251-268.

Montebarocchi, O., Codispoti, M., & B Baldaro, N. R. (2004). Adult attachment style and alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 499-507.

Parker, G. (1979). Reported parental characteristics of agoraphobics and social phobics. Br J Psychiatry, 135, 155–160.

Parker, G. (1983). Parental overprotection: a risk factor in psychosocial development. New York: Grune&Stratton.

Parker, G., Tupling, H., & Brown, L. (1979). Parental Bonding Instrument. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 52, 1-10.

Parker, J., Bagby, R., & Taylor, G. (1993). Factorial validity of the 20-item. European Journal of Personality, 221-232.

Peasley-Miklus, C. E., Panayiotou, G., & Vrana, S. R. (2016). Alexithymia Predicts Arousal-Based Processing Deficits and Discordance. Emotion, 16 (2), 164–174.

Pellerone, M., Craparo, G., & Tornabuoni, Y. (2016a). Relationship between parenting and cognitive schemas in a group of male adult offenders. Frontiers in Psychilogy, 7, 302.

Pellerone, M., Passanisi, A., & Bellomo, M. F. (2015). Identity development, intelligence structure, and interests: a cross-sectional study in a group of italian adolescents during thedecision-making process. Journal of Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 8, 239–249.

Pellerone, M., Ramaci, T., Lopez, M. H., & Craparo, G. (2017a). The Role of Identity Development and Decision Making Process on Adult Attachment: A Cross-national Study in Sicilian and Andalusian Adolescents. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 141-150.

Pellerone, M., Ramaci, T., Parrello, S., Guariglia, P., & Giaimo, F. (2017b). Psychometric properties and validation of the Italian version of the Family Assessment Measure Third Edition - Short Version - in a nonclinical sample. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 10, 69-77.

Pellerone, M., Tolini, G., & Polopoli, C. (2016b). Parenting, identity development, internalizing symptomps and alcohol use. A cross.sectional study in a group of Italian adolscents. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 1769–1778.

Pellerone, M., Tomasello, G., & Migliorisi, S. (2017c). Relationship between parenting, alexithymia and adult attachment styles: a cross-sectional study on a group of adolescents and young adults. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 14 (2), 125-134.

Picardi, A., Vermigli, P., Toni, A., D'amico, R., Bitetti, D., & Pasqualini, P. (2002). Further evidence of validity of the italian version of the questionnaire “experience in close Relationships” (ECR), a self-report instrument to assess adult attachment:ampliamento delle evidenze di validità per la versione italiana. Italian Journal of Psychopathology, 8 (3), 282-294.

Papousek, H., Papousek, M. (2002). Intuitive Parenting. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ramaci, T., Pellerone, M., Ledda, M., Presti, C., Squatrito, G., & Rapisarda, V. (2017). Gender Stereotypes In Occupational Choice: A Cross-Sectional Study On A Group Of Italian Adolescents. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 10, 109-117.

Roque, L., & Veríssimo, M. (2011). Emotional context, maternal behavior and emotion regulation. Infant Behavior and Development, 34, 617-626.

Scabini, E., & Cigoli, V. (2000). Il famigliare. Legami, simboli, tradizioni. Milano: Raffaello Cortina.

Sears, R., Maccoby, E., & Levin, H. (1957). Patterns of childreading. Evanston: Row-Peterson.

Sperling, M. B., & Berman, W. H. (1994). Attachment in Adults: Clinical and Developmental Perspectives. New York: Guilford Press.

Super, C. M., & S Harkness. (1986). The Developmental Niche: a conceprualization at the interface of child and culture. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 9.

Taylor, G. (2000). Recent developments in alexithymia theory and research. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 134-142.

Taylor, G. B. (1997). Disorders of affect regulation: Alexithymia in medical and psychiatric illness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, G. B. (2004). New trends in alexithymia research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 73, 68-77.

Taylor, G. J., Bagby, R. M., & Parker, J. D. (1999). Emotional Intelligence and emotional brain: points of convergence and implication for psychoanalysis. J Am Academy Psychoanal, 27, 339-354.

Velotti, P., & Zavattini, C. G. (2011). Intersoggettività e reciprocità nella relazione di coppia: la prospettiva psicoanalitica. Ricerca psicoanalitica. Rivista della relazione in psicoanalisi, 2, 35-56.

Wearden, J. H. (2005). Origins and development of internal clock theories of time. Psychologie Française, 7-25.



  • There are currently no refbacks.