Learn More on Attachment Style.

At this point, you have received your attachment results and have read about what these results mean. Perhaps you want to learn more. Great!


What exactly is attachment style?

Attachment style is the default perspective that people take on when forming expectations about relationships. These perspectives are shaped by past experiences from previous romantic relationships, friendships, and relationships with primary caregivers, such as parents. From these previous experiences with close others, people form different expectations of what to expect from their partners in romantic relationships.

Attachment style in adulthood is measured along two features: attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Every person falls somewhere on each of these two dimensions: low to high anxiety and low to high avoidance. 


Want to read more about attachment tendencies? Visit our page here. 


Why is attachment style important?

Attachment style has a profound influence on our psychological development. Your attachment style is a powerful result of what kinds of interpersonal relationships you have with important figures in your life – your parents, close friends, and especially romantic partners in adulthood. It is also a strong predictor the problems and successes you face in your relationships, so it can be beneficial to understand more about you and your partner's attachment style.


Where does attachment styles come from?

It comes from our innate human instincts to connect with others. Usually, individuals' first meaningful connection is formed with their parents, as babies form expectations on how reliable their parents are for their caregiving needs. For instance, infants signal their needs by crying when they are hungry, tired, or otherwise need to receive comfort from their caregivers, and they thrive when their caregivers are responsive to their needs. This relationship with the caregiver often becomes the foundation for other close relationships to come later in life. This instinct for security carries forward onto peer relationships and later onto romantic partners, and all of these experiences shape expectations of others.


Can attachment styles be changed?

Yes! A person's attachment style is not a permanent diagnosis; it is not ''set in stone''. Rather, attachment style can be thought of as an evolving web of mental representations, sort of like a complex web of mental images, memories, and emotions. New experiences can override previous experiences when people encounter influential others. Our team is studying how attachment styles can and do change over time through new experiences with romantic partners.


My partner or I may be avoidantly or anxiously attached. Is this bad?

No! It is not right or wrong to have a certain level of attachment security or insecurity. It may be easy to attribute 'secure' as good and 'insecure' (avoidant attachment and anxious attachment) as bad, but that is not necessarily the case. Some forms of attachment, even avoidance or anxiety, work better in certain situations.

Consider the full picture - there are advantages to detecting signs of an uncommitted partner when, in fact, a partner is overly selfish or unfaithful; detecting these signs can help protect oneself. There are also advantages to withdrawing emotionally when interactions become too painful or taxing; this too is a way to protect oneself. Instead, of viewing attachment styles as categories of 'good' or 'bad', you may benefit from knowing about what works for you and your relationships – what you desire, what you need, who you “go well with”.


Want to read further on attachment styles? Click here.


If you’re seeking more nitty gritty, here are some key academic readings on attachment insecurity in adulthood – straight from the ivory tower to you:


Arriaga, X. B., & Kumashiro, M. (2018). Walking a security tightrope: Relationship-induced changes in attachment security. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 121-126. doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.04.016


Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Simpson, J. A., & Overall, N. C. (2018). Revising working models across time: Relationship situations that enhance attachment security. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22, 71-96. doi.org/10.1177/1088868317705257


Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 644-663 doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.58.4.644


Feeney, B. C. & Collins, N. L. (2015). A new look at social support: A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19, 113-147doi.org/10.1177/1088868314544222


Fraley, R. C., Waller, N. G., & Brennan, K. A. (2000). An item-response theory analysis of self-report measures of adult attachment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 350-365. doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.2.350


Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2003). The attachment behavioral system in adulthood: Activation, psychodynamics, and interpersonal processes. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 53-152. doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(03)01002-5


Overall, N. C., Simpson, J. A., & Struthers, H. (2013). Buffering attachment-related avoidance: Softening emotional and behavioral defenses during conflict discussions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 854-871. doi:10.1037/a0031798


Pietromonaco, P. R., & Barrett, L. F. (2000). The internal working models concept: What do we really know about the self in relation to others?. Review of General Psychology, 4, 155-175. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.4.2.155


Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Phillips, D. (1996). Conflict in close relationships: An attachment perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 899-914. doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.71.5.899