Partner trust and childhood emotional maltreatment: The mediating and moderating roles of maladaptive schemas and psychological flexibility (Pages 66-73)

Volume 12, April 2019, Pages 66-73

Leah M. Baugh, Daniel W. Cox, Richard A. Young, David Kealy


Victims of childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM) often experience lasting interpersonal impacts. CEM is commonly experienced as a betrayal of trust and can lead victims to generalize this mistrust to relationships in adulthood, including their romantic partners. The aim of the present study was to better understand the association between CEM and partner trust by examining the relative strength of three potential mediators – psychological flexibility, maladaptive self schemas, and maladaptive other schemas. The study also investigated whether psychological flexibility buffered the association between maladaptive schemas and partner trust. Adults (N = 231) in committed romantic relationships completed measures of CEM, romantic partner trust, maladaptive schemas, and psychological flexibility. Simple and multiple mediation analyses were performed. We found that maladaptive self schemas were a stronger mediator than maladaptive other schemas; however, psychological flexibility was a more potent mediator than either schema type. Contrary to our hypothesis, psychological flexibility did not significantly moderate the effect of maladaptive schemas on partner trust. Our findings highlight the importance of attending to and increasing psychological flexibility with victims of CEM to facilitate romantic partner trust. Practical and clinical implications are discussed.

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