Responses to adversity in childhood: The effect of sex on attachment style and personality disorder traits
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The current study had 3 objectives; 1) examine the indirect effects of childhood adversity on personality disorder traits through attachment style, 2) examine the effect of biological sex on the relationship between adversity and attachment, and adversity and personality disorder traits and, 3) examine how personality disorder traits can be represented within a model of basic personality. For the first objective, I tested a structural equation model (SEM) examining the indirect effects of adversity (i.e., abuse and neglect) through attachment style (anxious and avoidant) to antisocial, borderline, and psychopathic traits (lifestyle and behavioural aspects). Specifically, the regression analyses found attachment to be a mediator in the relationships between adversity and borderline traits and Factor 1 psychopathic traits, yet the SEM model did not. Because biological sex may affect the relationship between adversity and attachment (Belsky et al., 1991; Del Giudice, 2009; Del Giudice & Belsky, 2010) and antisocial (Gawda & Czubak, 2017), borderline (Gawda & Czubak, 2017), and psychopathic personality outcomes (Cale & Lillienfeld, 2002), I examined sex as a potential moderator (Objective 2). No sex differences emerged in the relations between adversity and the other variables in the model. Finally, I explored antisocial, borderline, and psychopathic personality outcomes using the HEXACO model of personality (Objective 3; Ashton & Lee, 2009). Consistent with previous research (Book, Visser, & Volk, 2015; Book et al., 2016), I found that psychopathic traits were negatively related to Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Antisocial behaviours were predicted by low Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness in the current study. Borderline traits were found to be related negatively to Extraversion and Conscientiousness but had a significantly positive relationship with Emotionality. Limitations, future research, and implications are discussed.