The link between attachment orientations and cellular aging among former prisoners of war

Tsachi Ein-Dor*, Gilad Hirschberger, Noga Tsur, Mario Mikulincer, Shira Buchris Bazak, Zahava Solomon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) experience prolonged distress that in some cases may influence their cellular aging (telomere length). The current research examines whether attachment orientations of ex-POWs and their spouses can explain individual differences in telomere length 40 years after the experience of captivity. Methods: Eighty-eight Israeli ex-POWs were assessed at four time points since captivity, whereas their spouses at three time points. Attachment orientations (anxiety, avoidance) were assessed in three time points and telomere length was measured at time four. Results: Findings indicated that ex-POWs’ attachment avoidance was associated with shorter telomere length. In addition, spouses’ attachment anxiety was associated with shorter telomere length among ex-POWs, whereas spouses’ attachment avoidance was unexpectedly related to longer telomere length among ex-POWs. Conclusions: Results suggest that the effects of trauma on cellular aging are not uniform and that intrapersonal and interpersonal variables may moderate responses to trauma at the cellular level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-366
Number of pages15
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020


FundersFunder number
I-Core Research Center for Mass Trauma1916/12


    • Attachment
    • cellular aging
    • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • telomere
    • war captivity


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