Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Bonnie C. Nicholson

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Ashley B. Batastini

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Eric R. Dahlen

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Michael B. Madson

Committee Member 4 School



Emerging adults exposed to natural disasters may develop posttraumatic stress symptoms, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. Attachment quality has been found to be negatively associated with psychopathology in emerging adult hurricane survivors; however, the mechanisms by which this occurs have not yet been explored fully. Self-compassion may act as a protective factor against developing psychopathology while potentially promoting positive mental health outcomes following hurricane exposure. Furthermore, positive mental health has been identified as a potential resilience resource and may be impacted by attachment quality and self-compassion. The present study investigated the relationships between attachment quality, self-compassion, positive mental health, posttraumatic stress symptoms, emotional distress, and hurricane exposure severity in a sample of emerging adult hurricane survivors (N = 453). Participants completed an online questionnaire including a demographic survey, along with measures of hurricane exposure severity, attachment quality, self-compassion, positive mental health, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and emotional distress. Parent-child attachment quality was positively associated with positive mental health and negatively associated with both posttraumatic stress symptoms and emotional distress. These relationships were partially mediated by self-compassion. Self-compassion and positive mental health were found to be serial partial mediators in the relationship between parent-child attachment quality and posttraumatic stress symptoms and emotional distress. Hurricane exposure severity moderated all the mediations. These findings suggest self-compassion and positive mental health may be mechanisms by which the relationship between attachment quality and psychopathology is explained in emerging adult hurricane survivors.