Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley

Second Advisor/Committee Member

John Thoburn

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Beverly Wilson


Married individuals, like all other adults use the attachment styles they developed in childhood as part of their framework for how they experience loving relationships. Love can be experienced as commitment, passion, or intimacy or any combination of those styles. The degree of attachment related anxiety or avoidance a married person has can influence how they perceive the experience of different love styles in their close relationships. The present study aimed to evaluate how attachment style influences love style in a sample of married adults (N= 248). Participants ranged in age from 23 to 69 (M=38.6) and were predominantly female (93.1%) and graduate degree holders (61.7%). Most participants had been married 15 years or less (70.2%). This sample consisted of married adult staff and faculty surveyed at a small private university in the Northwest United States as well as married adults recruited on social media websites. In addition to examining the effect of adult attachment on love style, the study also evaluated the moderating effects of length of marriage. This moderator was included in order to provide a better understanding of a potential mechanism for fostering or inhibiting love, and to identify a possible point for intervention. Results indicate that low levels of attachment related anxiety are significantly predictive of high levels of intimacy (r=-.53, p < .001), passion (r=-.41, p < .001), and commitment (r=-.413, p < .001). Results further indicate that low levels of attachment related avoidance are significantly predictive of high levels of intimacy (r=-.64, p < .001), passion (r=-.56, p < .001), and commitment (r=-.51, p < .001). The length of marriage was the only significant moderator of the relationship between attachment-related avoidance and a passion love style (b=13.080, t [231] =-7.428, p <0.001) suggesting avoidance is more detrimental to the passion of those married 16 years or more compared to those married 15 years or less. These results highlight the importance of assessing for attachment related anxiety and avoidance in married individuals who may be suffering from deficits in one or more domain of love and that this assessment and related intervention may look similar for both newlyweds and those whose marriages have endured more tests of time.