Date of Award

Winter 3-14-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

John Thoburn

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette Bikos

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley

Abstract

The present study examined the relationship between variables of insecure attachment and feelings of initial attraction between young adults. Previous research has consistently supported the positive link between anxious attachment and hyperactivation of the attachment system in adults, resulting in preoccupied proximity seeking evaluations and behaviors. As such, emerging findings suggest that anxious attachment contributes to elevated levels of interpersonal attraction upon initial meetings with others, particularly those who may serve as future romantic partners. Despite a growing body of literature, little is known or understood about the impact of avoidant attachment in shaping early views of others, or how attachment avoidance may impact the relationship between anxiety and attraction. Utilizing an analogue, speed-dating context, this study explored the relationships between attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and interpersonal attraction occurring between young adult (i.e., ages 18-22) male-female dyads who were previously unacquainted. Participants were asked to converse and share stories for 10 minutes with each other, and then to independently complete measures of adult attachment and their feelings of attraction towards their experimental partner. Contradictory to what was expected, attachment anxiety did not predict elevated interpersonal attraction (F [1, 94] = .02, p = .88), nor did avoidance significantly moderate this relationship (F [1, 89] = 1.07, p = .30). Despite a lack of support for principal hypotheses, alternative findings suggested a positive relationship between attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance (r = .51, p < .01), as well as a negative relationship between relationship status and attachment anxiety (r = -.50, p < .01) and avoidance (r = -.52, p < .01). These results offer emerging insight to clinicians working with insecurely attached patients aiming to facilitate intimate relationship building.

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Copyright held by author.