Article

Argument Beliefs Mediate Relations Between Attachment Style and Conflict Tactics

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Abstract

The present study explores the importance of romantic relationship partners’ beliefs about argument. Findings support a model in which a view of argument as threatening to relationships mediates the positive association between both anxious and avoidant attachment and the use of self-focused conflict tactics such as dominating and denying. In addition, a belief that argument is devoid of benefit uniquely mediates a negative association between avoidant attachment and the use of other-oriented tactics such as integrating/compromising and obliging.

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... In considering how destructive and constructive narrative interpretations of specific conflict events with current partners were related to relationship functioning, we examined links with beliefs and conflict strategies. We focused on beliefs because they indicate variation in knowledge about the extent to which romantic conflict is good or bad for relationship health and such knowledge guides behavior during conflict (Ricco & Sierra, 2017;Simon et al., 2008). We focused on coercive and prosocial conflict strategies because they are central for understanding whether conflicts are more likely to escalate and to worsen relationship health or more likely to be resolved and improve intimacy (Crane & Testa, 2014;Sullivan et al., 2010). ...
... Although there is little literature using narratives to assess meaning making of specific romantic conflict events, there is clear evidence that negative relationship views are related to negative beliefs and behaviors and positive views are related to positive beliefs and behavior (e.g., Fite et al., 2008;Keener et al., 2012;Ricco & Sierra, 2017;Simon et al., 2008). Building on this work, more destructive interpretations were expected to be associated with reports of more destructive conflict beliefs and the use of relationship aggression. ...
... Constructive views of conflict may function as a means to distance the self from the negatively arousing features of past events (Kross, Ayduk, & Michel, 2005) and to tap into relationship oriented goals (Simon et al., 2008). As such, they may motivate the negotiation of problems in ways that enhance rather than harm relationships (Shulman, Tuval-Mashiach, Levran, & Anbar, 2006;Ricco & Sierra, 2017;Simon et al., 2008). Our findings suggest that constructive interpretations of conflict anticipate the potential for improving communication and resolving differences (Sullivan et al., 2010). ...
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In 145 predominantly heterosexual emerging adults, we examined constructive and destructive interpretations of romantic conflict using narratives and studied how gender affected conflict interpretations and relationship functioning. Destructive interpretations were related to negative conflict beliefs for women and dating aggression for men. Across gender, constructive interpretations were related to more problem solving but were more strongly related to less aggression for men. Understanding conflict interpretations through narratives may enhance relationships skills training for emerging adults.
... The way people perceive conflict influences how they deal with it. For example, people who view conflict as a negative event and associate it with lack of caring and respect from others tend to use dominating and avoidance strategies frequently (McDonald & Asher, 2013;Ricco & Sierra, 2017). Thus, an insight into not only how people view conflict, but also how they interpret the conflict process may help to better understand their conflict resolution. ...
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The study aimed to find out which features of conflict contribute to making it a positive experience and which features lead to conflict being evaluated negatively. The sample included 65 adults who provided narratives of positive and negative conflicts. The narratives of positive and negative conflicts were similar in the context and topics: Adults most frequently narrated about conflicts at work and in close relationships that were about differences in values, relationship issues, and resources. The findings suggest that desirable outcomes contribute most strongly to conflicts being viewed positively. In narratives about negative conflicts, participants described undesirable outcomes, but also the conflict process and negative emotions. The behavior of the conflict parties and reaching a solution were the two specific features determining whether the conflict was viewed as positive or negative. The findings have practical implications for improving conflict resolution.
... Emerging adulthood is a time of romantic development as individuals explore what they want in a partner and a relationship (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). Targeting BUA for couple education programs may be one way mental health professionals can support prevention efforts to soften the more negative long-term consequences of difficult break-ups and encourage skills that improve communication and deepen intimacy (Ricco & Sierra, 2017). Our findings suggest that couples in which one or both partners interpret conflict with BUA may struggle to communicate their concerns, and even if they are able to do so, they are likely to have difficulty understanding their partners' perspective. ...
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Seeking to understand how emerging adult couples frame unmet needs viewed as a threat to their relationship, we examined narratives in which both partners (12 couples) or only one partner (37 couples) expressed break-up anxiety (BUA). The unmet need of Autonomy was more common in partners with BUA whereas Affiliation was more common in those without it. Overlap in narrating the same unmet needs related to BUA was common when both partners expressed BUA, modest when only the female and low when only the male partner expressed BUA. Female partners were more likely to mention BUA and intimacy problems related to BUA than male partners. Couple interventions that target how to disclose and process BUA may help partners develop more effective intimacy skills and, when need be, skills to end relationships in more adaptive ways.
... Emerging adulthood is a time of romantic development as individuals explore what they want in a partner and a relationship (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). Targeting BUA for couple education programs may be one way mental health professionals can support prevention efforts to soften the more negative long-term consequences of difficult break-ups and encourage skills that improve communication and deepen intimacy (Ricco & Sierra, 2017). Our findings suggest that couples in which one or both partners interpret conflict with BUA may struggle to communicate their concerns and, even if they are able to do so, are likely to have difficulty understanding their partners" perspective. ...
Preprint
Seeking to understand how emerging adult couples frame unmet needs viewed as a threat to their relationship, we examined narratives in which both partners (12 couples) or only one partner (37 couples) expressed break-up anxiety (BUA). The unmet need of Autonomy was more common in partners with BUA whereas Affiliation was more common in those without it. Overlap in narrating the same unmet needs related to BUA was common when both partners expressed BUA, modest when only the female and low when only the male partner expressed BUA. Female partners were more likely to mention BUA and Intimacy problems related to BUA than male partners. Couple interventions that target how to disclose and process BUA may help partners develop more effective intimacy skills and, when need be, skills to end relationships in more adaptive ways.
... Emerging adulthood is a time of romantic development as individuals explore what they want in a partner and a relationship (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). Targeting BUA for couple education programs may be one way mental health professionals can support prevention efforts to soften the more negative long-term consequences of difficult break-ups and encourage skills that improve communication and deepen intimacy (Ricco & Sierra, 2017). Our findings suggest that couples in which one or both partners interpret conflict with BUA may struggle to communicate their concerns and, even if they are able to do so, are likely to have difficulty understanding their partners" perspective. ...
Article
Seeking to understand how emerging adult couples frame unmet needs viewed as a threat to their relationship, we examined narratives in which both partners (12 couples) or only one partner (37 couples) expressed break-up anxiety (BUA). The unmet need of Autonomy was more common in partners with BUA whereas Affiliation was more common in those without it. Overlap in narrating the same unmet needs relate to BUA was common when both partners expressed BUA, modest when only the female and low when only the male partner expressed BUA. Female partners were more likely to mention BUA and Intimacy problems related to BUA than male partners. Couple interventions that target how to disclose and process BUA may help partners develop more effective intimacy skills and, when need be, skills to end relationships in more adaptive ways.
... Different studies show that the attachment style, as an independent variable, predicts the type of strategy that will be used by spouses (Ricco & Sierra, 2017), marital quality (Scheeren et al., 2014;Scheeren et al., 2015), as well as marital status adjustment (Cobb et al., 2001;Consoli et al., 2018;Epstein, Warfel, Johnson, Smith, & McKinney, 2013), a variable that assesses how well adjusted the couple is through levels of satisfaction, consensus and cohesion (Hollist et al., 2012). As initially mentioned, attachment styles influence the way people perceive their spouse and conflict situations, interpret events in the relationship and behave towards them, interfering in the way they communicate, demonstrate their needs, resolve conflicts and assess the relationship (Cobb et al., 2001;Curran et al., 2011;Deitz et al., 2015;Lamela et al., 2010). ...
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... Moreover, it was found that destructive belief about disagreements is negatively associated with constructive conflict resolution strategies, such as integrating (Simon & Sierra, 2017) and negotiation (Simon et al., 2008). However, previous research differs from this study in participants' age -some concentrated in late adolescence (Simon, Kobielski, & Martin, 2008), others included participants with a broader age range (Ricco & Sierra, 2017). In this study it is hypothesized (H 1 ) that the more expressed irrational belief "Disagreement is destructive" will be related to higher use of dominating and avoiding and lower use of integrating and compromising conflict resolution strategies in young adulthood. ...
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Parents (N= 124) completed surveys assessing their adult attachment style, conflict resolution style, social self‐efficacy, and perspective taking. Findings supported hypothesized relationships between secure attachment and mutual forms of conflict resolution. More equivocal support was obtained for hypothesized pairings of specific nonsecure attachment styles and nonmutual conflict styles. Findings suggested mediating effects for social competencies (social self‐efficacy and perspective taking), which accounted for some of the negative association between attachment avoidance and mutual conflict style. Follow‐up analyses identified mediating effects of social competencies on specific combinations of attachment and conflict styles–thus suggesting avenues for counseling interventions.
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Despite recommendations from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) to include information on statistical power when publishing quantitative results, authors seldom include analysis or discussion of statistical power. The rationale for discussing statistical power is addressed, approaches to using G*Power to report statistical power are presented, and examples for reporting statistical power are provided.
Article
This article offers guidelines for training relationally oriented therapists. We highlight core concepts that are widely used across relationally oriented therapies. We focus on the process dimension and the therapeutic relationship, and illustrate how process comments are the moderator variable that makes each of the core concepts more effective. Guidelines are provided for clinical instructors to help their trainees use these challenging, but potent, interventions that bring intensity to the therapeutic relationship and help provide the corrective emotional experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Most research has employed methods that treat interpersonal arguments as though they occur in a single episode or that ignore their episodic nature. However, limited research suggests that a relational argument may be repeated and can be viewed as serial. The authors' perspective assumes that the perceived resolvability of a serial argument is a better predictor of relational quality than is the frequency with which the argument; the results of a survey of individuals involved in a dating relationship support this assumption. Perceived resolvability is negatively related to (a) arguments arising from violated expectations, (b) counter-complaining and partner-initiated demand-withdrawal cycles, (c) predictability of argumentative episodes, (d) mulling, (e) overall amount of discord in the relationship, and (f) withdrawal from the partner after an episode. The extent of constructive communication that occurred during the initial confrontation is positively related to perceived resolvability.
Article
Attachment anxiety and avoidance have been shown to affect how an individual processes social information such as facial expressions. Previous work has not explored perception of couple relationships. The current study had 39 individuals observe images and videos of couples in conflict. Results suggest that individuals with higher attachment anxiety perceived more intensity in negative interactions/affect and less positive interactions/affect in the couples they observed. Implications for therapy, clinical supervision, and family life education are discussed.
Article
The current research tested whether individuals high in attachment anxiety react to relationship threats in ways that can help them feel secure and satisfied in their relationship. Individuals higher in attachment anxiety experienced greater hurt feelings on days they faced partner criticism or conflict (Study 1) and during observed conflict discussions (Study 2). These pronounced hurt feelings triggered exaggerated expressions of hurt to induce guilt in the partner. Partners perceived the hurt feelings of more anxious individuals to be more intense than low anxious individuals' hurt and, in turn, experienced greater levels of guilt (Study 1). More anxious individuals were also rated by objective coders as exhibiting more guilt-induction strategies during conflict, which led to increases in partner guilt (Study 2). Moreover, partner guilt helped anxious individuals maintain more positive relationship evaluations. Although greater partner guilt had detrimental effects for individuals low in anxiety, more anxious individuals experienced more stable perceptions of their partner's commitment and more positive relationship evaluations when their partner felt more guilt. Unfortunately, these benefits were accompanied by significant declines in the partner's relationship satisfaction. These results illustrate that anxious reactions to threat are not uniformly destructive; instead, the reassuring emotions their reactions induce in relationship partners help anxious individuals feel satisfied and secure in their partner's commitment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Recent training efforts designed to strengthen student argumentation skills and decrease verbally aggressive tendencies have yielded mixed results (Rancer et al., 1997, 2000). Inherent in these efforts is the belief that an individual's use of verbal aggression is implicitly related to law argumentative behavior and a weak system for generating arguments (Infante, 1988). As an extension of this research, we examined the relationships among trait‐like argumentativeness (Infante & Rancer, 1982), trait‐like verbal aggressiveness (Infante & Wigley, 1986) (VA), and Wheeless, Preiss, and Gayle's (1997) construct of informational reception apprehension (IRA). Results indicated that two IRA factors, listening anxiety and intellectual inflexibility, were significant predictors of both aggressive communication traits. Further, both IRA factors accounted for greater variance in trait‐like argumentativeness than in trait‐like VA. Implications of these findings as they relate to Infante's (1987) “argumentative skill deficiency model,” as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.
Article
Attachment insecurities (anxiety and avoidance) are often associated with relationship dissatisfaction, but the mediators have been unclear. We examined the mediating role of perceived conflict in 274 French-Canadian couples who completed measures of attachment insecurities, perception of conflict, and relationship satisfaction. Partners' own attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted their experience of conflict. In addition, women's anxiety predicted men's experience of conflict, and men's avoidance predicted women's experience of conflict. The associations between attachment insecurities and relationship dissatisfaction were partially mediated by conflict.
Article
This study examined the influence of ethnic background, ethnic identity, and cultural identity on conflict styles among African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and Latino(a) Americans. Panethnic factor analysis yielded four dimensions of ethnic identity: ethnic belonging, fringe, intergroup interaction, and assimilation. A second-order factor analysis yielded two clear identity dimensions: ethnic identity salience and cultural identity salience. In addition, panethnic factor analysis yielded seven conflict management styles: integrating, compromising, dominating, avoiding, neglecting, emotional expression, and third party. Some of the major findings of the study are: (1) African Americans have a stronger ethnic identity and a weaker cultural identity than the other ethnic groups; (2) European Americans have a weaker ethnic identity than the other groups; (3) Latino(a) Americans and Asian Americans use avoiding and third party conflict styles more than African Americans, and, Asian Americans use avoiding conflict style more than European Americans; (4) Individuals with a strong cultural identity (i.e., identifying with the larger US culture) use integrating, compromising, and emotionally expressive conflict styles more than individuals with a weak cultural identity; (5) Individuals with a strong ethnic identity (i.e., identifying with their ethnic memberships) use integrating conflict style more than individuals with a weak ethnic identity; (6) bicultural, assimilated, and traditional-oriented groups use integrating and compromising conflict styles more than the marginal group, and the marginal group uses third party help more than the other three groups.
Article
This study examined whether adult attachment was predictive of conflict resolution behaviors and satisfaction in romantic relationships. It adopted a two-dimensional conceptualization for both adult attachment style (model of self, model of others) and conflict resolution behaviors (concern for self, concern for others). Both adult attachment dimensions, Avoidance and Anxiety, were predictive of conflict resolution behaviors and relationship satisfaction. Gender differences existed in conflict resolution behaviors, but they were not as strong a predictor as attachment characteristics of conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction. No gender differences were found in attachment styles.
Article
This paper explicates the implications of my research on conflict management for self improvement and for practitioners who work to improve the conflict management of others. I also note how my experiences with practitioners have informed my research.
Article
Theory and research support a link between disengaging or avoidant communication and global marital distress; however, questions remain regarding individual differences and situational influences associated with partners' tendency to disengage. Guided by an attachment framework, this study addressed two aims. The first aim was to replicate and extend previous research that has found mixed support for a link between higher attachment avoidance and more disengaging or avoidant behaviors during conflict interactions. To accomplish this aim, the authors examined two moderators of this link. The second aim was to clarify the relation between avoidant attachment and disengaging behaviors across two relationship contexts central to both the attachment and marital literatures-couples' conflictual and supportive interactions. In addressing these aims the authors proposed two hypotheses: first, spouses with higher attachment avoidance would be more disengaged during interactions in which their partners evidenced greater negative affect; second, spouses with higher attachment avoidance would be more disengaged during conflict interactions that they perceived as more destructive. Couples were assessed annually over 5 years. Aims were addressed both cross-sectionally and longitudinally and via questionnaire and behavioral observation data. During both conflictual and supportive interactions, wives' negative affect predicted husbands' disengagement when husbands were higher on avoidant attachment. Longitudinally, the link between husbands' perceptions of their couple conflict as destructive and husbands' conflict avoidance was stronger for husbands who were higher on attachment avoidance. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Although research has linked late adolescent attachment difficulties with broad problems in romantic relationships, less work has focused on how these difficulties relate to precise problems in these relationships. In the current study, the authors examined associations between attachment orientations and coping with conflict in romantic relationships in a sample of 357 college students by developing a path analytic model. Adolescents with more-insecure attachment orientations were predicted to report more negative affect during disagreements, less confidence in coping during arguments, and less optimal conflict tactics (e.g., more conflict escalation) than youth with more-secure representations. The predictions imbedded within the model were generally supported. Although more-avoidant and more-ambivalent adolescents reported less optimal conflict tactics than did more-secure adolescents, individual differences in the attachment process predicted differential affective-cognitive responses during these disputes. This study has implications for attachment research and interventions with adolescents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The goal of this study was to specify relations between internal working models of attachment (IWM) and conflict management behaviors in a sample of young adults involved in romantic relationships. One hundred forty-five romantic couples were recruited to address this goal. All participants were administered the Adult Attachment Interview (C. George, N. Kaplan, & M. Main, 1996) and observed across 2 experimental conditions designed to simulate waiting room and conflict management contexts. As expected, individual differences in IWM predicted positive and negative conflict management behavior. The IWM of the young women predicted more positive behavior across interactions, whereas the IWM of the young men predicted more negative behavior in the conflict management condition. Individuals who were unresolved regarding loss or trauma and who displayed considerable attachment insecurity were particularly vulnerable to more negative behavior, particularly in terms of exhibiting controlling behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In a sample of 138 couples, the present study examined whether individuals' marital functioning related to both their own and their partner's attachment stance. Earned-secure wives managed their affect as well as continuous-secure wives during problem-solving discussions and better than preoccupied or dismissing wives. However, preoccupied and dismissing wives did not exhibit markedly different patterns of affect regulation in their marriages. Regarding individuals' marital functioning and partners' attachment stance, neither husbands' behavior nor perceptions related to their wives' attachment stance. However, wives of continuous-secure husbands exhibited more positive marital behavior than wives of dismissing and earned-secure husbands. Findings are discussed in terms of how attachment working models may account for both continuities and discontinuities between earlier caregiving experiences and functioning in adult relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Relationships among attachment styles, conflict styles and humour styles were examined in the context of romantic relationships. Each style was assumed to be based upon underlying assumptions about self and others, so relationships among the measures were predicted. A model assuming that the relationship of attachment styles to relationship satisfaction was partially mediated by the conflict styles and humour styles was tested. Overall, the predicted relationships among the three measures were supported. Conflict styles and humour styles reflecting attitudes about others were related to the avoidance attachment style, while those reflecting attitudes about the self were related to the anxiety attachment dimension. Conflict styles and humour styles were mediators of the association of attachment style with relationship satisfaction. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The goal of this investigation was to specify associations among negative mood regulation expectancies, generalized attachment representations, and conflict tactics in a sample of college students involved in a romantic relationship. It was predicted that attachment representations would moderate associations between negative mood regulation expectancies and conflict management tactics. Participants were 130 college students involved in a steady romantic relationship. They were administered the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1996), questionnaires that assessed negative mood regulation expectancies, and were observed for 15 min resolving conflict with their romantic partner. The results confirmed the hypotheses. For example, secure youth with high negative mood regulation expectancies displayed good conflict management behavior, whereas dismissing youth who reported high confidence displayed more undesirable behavior. Implications for future research are discussed.
Article
Serial arguing has been linked to relational difficulties. We extend this research by looking at the relationship between demand/withdraw patterns enacted during argumentative episodes and aversive reactions after the episode has ended in romantic relationships (N = 219). We found that individuals who initiated the first confrontation often reported they did so because they were very upset and they initiated a self-demand/partner-withdraw pattern that was repeated in subsequent episodes. The self-demand/partner-withdraw pattern was positively related to experiencing intrusive thoughts and feelings about the episode, attempts to avoid such thoughts and feelings, a hyperaroused state, and disruption of everyday activities. Individuals who were originally confronted by their partners report that their partners demanded they change and they withdraw, and this pattern was repeated in typical episodes. This pattern is more strongly related to stress than was self-demand/partner-withdraw and was equally predictive of attempts to avoid thinking about the event. However, the partner-demand/self-withdraw sequence was not strongly related to most of the other aversive episodic reactions.
Article
Over the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in clinical applications of attachment theory. In the present paper, we briefly describe John Bowlby's model of therapeutic change, the therapeutic relationship, and the therapist's role in emotional healing. We then review empirical evidence for three key propositions in Bowlby's model. First, a client's sense of security during therapy is crucial for facilitating therapeutic work. Second, a therapist's own sense of security contributes to positive therapeutic outcomes. Third, attachment insecurities can be effectively reduced in therapy, and movement toward greater attachment security is central to achieving favorable therapeutic outcomes. In sum, research evidence confirms the importance of establishing what Bowlby called a safe haven and a secure base within a therapeutic relationship.
Article
Anxiety impairs the ability to think and concentrate, suggesting that the interaction between emotion and cognition may elucidate the debilitating nature of pathological anxiety. Using a verbal n-back task that parametrically modulated cognitive load, we explored the effect of experimentally induced anxiety on task performance and the startle reflex. Findings suggest there is a crucial inflection point between moderate and high cognitive load, where resources shift from anxious apprehension to focus on task demands. Specifically, we demonstrate that anxiety impairs performance under low load, but is reduced when subjects engage in a difficult task that occupies executive resources. We propose a two-component model of anxiety that describes a cognitive mechanism behind performance impairment and an automatic response that supports sustained anxiety-potentiated startle. Implications for therapeutic interventions and emotional pathology are discussed.
Article
Attachment theory is a theory of affect regulation as it occurs in the context of close relationships. Early research focused on regulation of emotions through maintenance of proximity to supportive others (attachment figures) in times of need. Recently, emphasis has shifted to the regulation of emotion, and the benefits of such regulation for exploration and learning, via the activation of mental representations of attachment figures (security priming). We conducted two studies on the effects of implicit and explicit security priming on creative problem solving. In Study 1, implicit security priming (subliminal presentation of attachment figures' names) led to more creative problem solving (compared with control conditions) regardless of dispositional attachment anxiety and avoidance. In Study 2, the effects of explicit security priming (recalling experiences of being well cared for) were moderated by anxiety and avoidance. We discuss the link between attachment and exploration and the different effects of implicit and explicit security priming.
Article
The current studies tested how attachment orientations are related to empathic accuracy (i.e., the accuracy with which one infers a partner's private thoughts and feelings) during attachment-relevant discussions. In Study 1, married couples were videotaped discussing a severe or a less severe relationship issue that involved intimacy or jealousy. In Study 2, dating couples were videotaped trying to resolve a relationship conflict. Consistent with the revised empathic accuracy model, highly avoidant individuals were less empathically accurate in both studies. Relative to less anxious persons, highly anxious individuals were more empathically accurate when discussing intimacy issues that posed a potential threat to their relationship (in Study 1) and when they were rated as more distressed when discussing a relationship conflict (in Study 2). The findings are discussed in terms of how highly anxious and highly avoidant people differentially manage empathic accuracy to regulate negative affect and facilitate their interpersonal goals.
Article
Attachment theorists have emphasized that attachment-anxious individuals are ambivalent in their relational tendencies, wishing to be close to their relationship partners but also fearing rejection. Here we report 6 studies examining the contribution of attachment anxiety and experimentally induced relational contexts (both positive and negative) to explicit and implicit manifestations of (a) attitudinal ambivalence toward a romantic partner and (b) motivational ambivalence with respect to the goals of relational closeness and distance. Attachment-anxious individuals exhibited strong attitudinal ambivalence toward a romantic partner, assessed by both explicit and implicit measures. They also exhibited strong motivational ambivalence regarding closeness (both explicit and implicit), and this motivational conflict was intensified in relational contexts that encouraged either approach or avoidance tendencies. Participants who scored relatively high on avoidant attachment proved to be implicitly ambivalent about distance issues but mainly in negative relational contexts. Several alternative interpretations of the results were considered and ruled out.
Article
This study tested the success of communication strategies used by relationship partners (N = 61 romantic couples) who were videotaped while trying to produce desired changes in each other. Strategies varying in valence (positive vs. negative) and directness (direct vs. indirect) were differentially associated with postdiscussion perceptions of success as well as ratings of demonstrated change in targeted features gathered at 3-month intervals during the following year. Direct strategies (positive and negative) were initially perceived as relatively unsuccessful but predicted increased change over the next 12 months as reported by the targeted partners and (for positive-direct strategies) as perceived by female agents. Positive-indirect strategies, in contrast, were associated with higher concurrent perceived success but did not predict later change. Increases in problem severity also forecasted lower relationship quality over time. These findings indicate that one mechanism through which regulation strategies impact relationship outcomes is the extent to which engaged strategies are successful at producing desired change.
Article
Working models of attachment in marital functioning were examined. The security and accuracy of working models were measured with a new Q-sort method. Spouses with secure working models (self as relying on partner and partner as psychologically available) showed more constructive modulation of emotion and reported better marital adjustment. The accuracy of internal working models, measured with an objective index of spouses' agreement about models, was associated with independent reports of marital adjustment and observers' ratings of communication in problem-solving and confiding tasks. Behavior in communication tasks showed predictable associations with attachment security. Husbands' attachment security covaried with wives' rejection during problem solving, and wives' security covaried with quality of husbands' listening during a confiding task. A reciprocal interaction view of working models and marital functioning is supported.
Article
A new 4-group model of attachment styles in adulthood is proposed. Four prototypic attachment patterns are defined using combinations of a person's self-image (positive or negative) and image of others (positive or negative). In Study 1, an interview was developed to yield continuous and categorical ratings of the 4 attachment styles. Intercorrelations of the attachment ratings were consistent with the proposed model. Attachment ratings were validated by self-report measures of self-concept and interpersonal functioning. Each style was associated with a distinct profile of interpersonal problems, according to both self- and friend-reports. In Study 2, attachment styles within the family of origin and with peers were assessed independently. Results of Study 1 were replicated. The proposed model was shown to be applicable to representations of family relations; Ss' attachment styles with peers were correlated with family attachment ratings.
Article
This study investigated how perceptions of current dating partners and relationships change after people with different attachment orientations attempt to resolve a problem in their relationship. Dating couples were videotaped while they tried to resolve either a major or a minor problem. Confirming predictions from attachment theory, men and women who had a more ambivalent orientation perceived their partner and relationship in relatively less positive terms after discussing a major problem. Observer ratings revealed that more ambivalent women who tried to resolve a major problem displayed particularly strong stress and anxiety and engaged in more negative behaviors. Conversely, men with a more avoidant orientation were rated as less warm and supportive, especially if they discussed a major problem. These results are discussed in terms of how highly ambivalent and highly avoidant people differentially perceive and respond to distressing events.