Attachment relationships and health behavior: The mediational role of self-esteem

Erik T. Huntsinger, Linda Luecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Many young adults exhibit poor preventive health behavior (e.g., exercise, diet), thereby increasing their long-term risk to health. Recent research has focused on factors related to the development of health behavior in an effort to design effective early interventions. The present study evaluates how attachment styles are related to health behavior in young adults, and the potential mediational role of self-esteem. University students (N = 793) completed surveys assessing attachment style, self-esteem, and health behavior. Results showed that those with secure attachment styles participated in healthier preventive health behavior and had higher self-esteem than those with insecure styles (all ps < 0.05). Self-esteem partially mediated the relation between attachment styles and health behavior (p < 0.01). These results suggest that the development of self-esteem may represent a pathway by which individual styles of interaction with significant others, acquired early in life, can significantly impact key long-term preventive health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-526
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Attachment
  • Health behavior
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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