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Understanding distal and proximal relational underpinnings of positive schemas in emerging adulthood

Published Online:pp 327-339

Positive cognitive schemas have been linked to various indicators of well-being including reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increased resilience and life satisfaction. Schema theory underscores toxic parenting, and to some extent, later relationships as foundational for negative schemas. Yet, little is known about parental and intimate partner relational underpinnings of positive schemas, important and unique predictors of well-being. Thus, the current study examined the potential mediating role of proximal romantic attachment in the relation between distal childhood emotional maltreatment (EMT) and positive cognitive schemas in emerging adulthood. Participants (N = 118; M = 18.43 years) completed questionnaires about childhood EMT, romantic attachment and positive schema content. Hierarchical multiple regression models as well as bootstrap path coefficients revealed that romantic attachment significantly mediated the relation between childhood EMT and positive schema development. This research illuminates contributions of parenting and romantic relationships to positive cognitive schemas in emerging adulthood.


positive cognitive schemas, childhood emotional maltreatment, romantic partner attachment, emerging adulthood