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Working models of attachment: Implications for explanation, emotion and behavior

Author(s): Collins NL, Read S, Miller N, Duval S, Walsh D

Abstract

Two studies examined attachment style differences in social perception. In Study 1, participants wrote open-ended explanations for hypothetical relationship events and described how they would feel and behave in response to each event. Compared with secure participants, preoccupied participants explained events in more negative ways; they also reported more emotional distress and behaviors that were likely to lead to conflict. Avoidant participants also provided negative explanations, but did not report emotional distress. Path analysis indicated that attachment style differences in behavior were mediated by explanation patterns and emotional distress. Study 2 was designed to replicate Study 1 and test the relative importance of attachment style and relationship quality to predicting each outcome. Results indicated that both variables were significant predictors of explanations, but only attachment style predicted emotional responses. These findings are consistent with the idea that adults with different working models of attachment are predisposed to think, feel, and behave differently in their relationships.

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