Existential isolation, loneliness, and attachment in young adults

Peter J. Helm, Tyler Jimenez, Michael Bultmann, Uri Lifshin, Jeff Greenberg, Jamie Arndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This research examines how existential isolation (EI) relates to dimensions of relational attachment. Drawing upon previous research examining the relationship between loneliness and attachment, as well as theorizing in the state-trait EI model, we predicted that EI would be positively associated with insecure attachment, but more associated with avoidant than with anxious attachment. Three cross-sectional studies (total N = 7951) find support for these proposed relationships, with loneliness more strongly related to anxious than avoidant attachment (Studies 2 and 3), suggesting that different forms of interpersonal isolation are especially likely to be involved with different attachment orientations. We briefly consider possible explanations and implications of these findings and directions for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109890
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Attachment
  • Existential isolation
  • Loneliness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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