Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: June 2020

5 - An Interdependence Analysis of Enhancing Attachment Security

from Part II - Interdependence, Security, and Risk

Summary

Romantic relationships affect the levels of security that people generally experience with close others. Experiences with a partner carry immediate outcomes (e.g., feeling appreciated vs. ignored), but they also can have longer lasting effects when they cause people to reflect on their overall worthiness and comfort with closeness/trust toward others. Our chapter examines how such experiences shape the mental representations that underlie chronic tendencies with attachment security, and how these representations may change with new experiences in romantic involvements. We examine change through the lens of the Attachment Security Enhancement Model, which suggests that enhancing security in relationships involves both mitigating momentary insecurity and fostering more secure mental representations over the longer term. Whether partners are effective at enhancing security may depend on the strategies they enact, and optimal strategies depend on whether a person is experiencing momentary anxiety versus avoidance. Over time, partner strategies in new situations – especially those that depart from past insecure experiences (e.g., painful interactions in close relationships) – can lead to revisions of insecure mental representations (e.g., beliefs about the self, expectations of close others). Together, using strategies to manage insecure moments and create opportunities to revise insecure mental representations may enhance security across time.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Finkel, E. J., VanderDrift, L. E., & Luchies, L. B. (2014). Filling the void: Bolstering attachment security in committed relationships. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 398405.
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 Bulletin, 22, 7196.
Aron, A. & Aron, E. N. (1986). Love and the Expansion of Self: Understanding Attraction and Satisfaction. New York: Hemisphere.
Beck, L. A. & Clark, M. S. (2009). Choosing to enter or avoid diagnostic social situations. Psychological Science, 20, 11751181.
Beckes, L., Simons, K., Lewis, D., Le, A., & Edwards, W. (2017). Desperately seeking support: Negative reinforcement schedules in the formation of adult attachment associations. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 229238.
Birnbaum, G. E., Reis, H. T., Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., & Orpaz, A. (2006). When sex is more than just sex: Attachment orientations, sexual experience, and relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 929943.
Birnie, C., McClure, M. J., Lydon, J. E., & Holmberg, D. (2009). Attachment avoidance and commitment aversion: A script for relationship failure. Personal Relationships, 16, 7997.
Bolger, N., DeLongis, A., Kessler, R. C., & Wethington, E. (1989). The contagion of stress across multiple roles. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 175183.
Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L., & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Self-report measurement of adult attachment: An integrative overview. In Simpson, J. A. & Rholes, W. S. (Eds.), Attachment Theory and Close Relationships (pp. 4676). New York: Guilford.
Brennan, K. A. & Shaver, P. R. (1995). Dimensions of adult attachment, affect regulation, and romantic relationship functioning. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 267283.
Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28, 759.
Carnelley, K. B. & Ruscher, J. B. (2000). Adult attachment and exploratory behavior in leisure. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 153165.
Carvallo, M. & Gabriel, S. (2006). No man is an island: The need to belong and dismissing avoidant attachment style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 697709.
Chopik, W. J., Edelstein, R. S., & Grimm, K. J. (2019). Longitudinal changes in attachment orientation over a 59-year period. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116, 598611.
Collins, N. L. (1996). Working models of attachment: Implications for explanation, emotion, and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 810832.
Collins, N. L. & Feeney, B. C. (2000). A safe haven: An attachment theory perspective on support seeking and caregiving in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 1053.
Collins, N. L. & Ford, M. B. (2010). Responding to the needs of others: The caregiving behavioral system in intimate relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27, 235244.
Collins, N. L., Ford, M. B., Guichard, A. C., & Allard, L. M. (2006). Working models of attachment and attribution processes in intimate relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 201219.
Collins, N. L. & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 644663.
Davila, J. & Cobb, R. (2003). Predicting change in self-reported and interviewer-assessed adult attachment: Tests of the individual difference and life stress models of attachment change. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 859870.
Davila, J. & Kashy, D. A. (2009). Secure base processes in couples: Daily associations between support experiences and attachment security. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(1), 7688.
Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (2014). Autonomy and need satisfaction in close relationships: Relationships motivation theory. In Weinstein, N. (Ed.), Human Motivation and Interpersonal Relationships: Theory, Research, and Applications (pp. 5373), Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.
Drigotas, S. M. (2002). The Michelangelo phenomenon and personal well-being. Journal of Personality, 70, 5977.
Drigotas, S. M., Rusbult, C. E., Wieselquist, J., & Whitton, S. W. (1999). Close partner as sculptor of the ideal self: Behavioral affirmation and the Michelangelo phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 293323.
Edelstein, R. S. & Shaver, P. R. (2004). Avoidant attachment: Exploration of an oxymoron. In Mashek, D. J. & Aron, A. P. (Eds.), Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy (pp. 397412). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Farrell, A. K., Simpson, J. A., Overall, N. C., & Shallcross, S. L. (2016). Buffering the responses of avoidantly attached romantic partners in strain test situations. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 580591.
Feeney, B. C. (2004). A secure base: Responsive support of goal strivings and exploration in adult intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 631648.
Feeney, B. C. (2007). The dependency paradox in close relationships: Accepting dependence promotes independence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 268285.
Feeney, B. C. & Collins, N. L. (2001). Predictors of caregiving in adult intimate relationships: An attachment theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 972994.
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, 113147.
Feeney, B. C. & Collins, N. L. (2019). The importance of relational support for attachment and exploration needs. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 182186.
Feeney, B. C., Collins, N. L., Van Vleet, M., & Tomlinson, J. M. (2013). Motivations for providing a secure base: Links with attachment orientation and secure base support behavior. Attachment & Human Development, 15, 261280.
Feeney, B. C. & Thrush, R. L. (2010). Relationship influences on exploration in adulthood: The characteristics and function of a secure base. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 5776.
Finkel, E. J. & Campbell, W. K. (2001). Self-control and accommodation in close relationships: An interdependence analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 263277.
Fraley, R. C., Roisman, G. I., Booth-LaForce, C., Owen, M. T., & Holland, A. S. (2013). Interpersonal and genetic origins of adult attachment styles: A longitudinal study from infancy to early adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 817.
Fraley, R. C. & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Airport separations: A naturalistic study of adult attachment dynamics in separating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1198.
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, 350365.
Gaines, S. O. Jr., Reis, H. T., Summers, S., Rusbult, C. E., Cox, C. L., Wexler, M. O., … Kurland, G. J. (1997). Impact of attachment style on reactions to accommodative dilemmas in close relationships. Personal Relationships, 4, 93113.
Girme, Y. U., Overall, N. C., & Faingataa, S. (2014). “Date nights” take two: The maintenance function of shared relationship activities. Personal Relationships, 21, 125149.
Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. R. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511524.
Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. R. (1990). Love and work: An attachment-theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 270280.
Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. R. (1994). Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationships. Psychological Inquiry, 5, 122.
Holmes, J. G. (2002). Interpersonal expectations as the building blocks of social cognition: An interdependence theory analysis. Personal Relationships, 9, 126.
Holmes, J. G. & Rempel, J. K. (1989). Trust in close relationships. In Hendrick, C. (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 187220). London: Sage.
Hunt, L. L., Arriaga, X. B., & Kumashiro, M. (2020). “Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want”: Preferences within Attachment-Relevant Situations. Manuscript in preparation.
Jakubiak, B. K. & Feeney, B. C. (2016). A sense of security: Touch promotes state attachment security. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 745753.
Jones, J. D., Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P. R. (2015). Parents’ self-reported attachment styles: A review of links with parenting behaviors, emotions, and cognitions. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19(1), 4476.
Kelley, H. H. (1979). Personal Relationships: Their Structures and Processes. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Kelley, H. H. (1983). The situational origins of human tendencies: A further reason for the formal analysis of structure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 830.
Kelley, H. H., Holmes, J. G., Kerr, N. L., Reis, H. T., Rusbult, C. E., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2003). An Atlas of Interpersonal Situations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kim, K. J., Feeney, B. C., & Jakubiak, B. K. (2018). Touch reduces romantic jealousy in the anxiously attached. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35, 10191041.
Kirkpatrick, L. A. & Davis, K. E. (1994). Attachment style, gender, and relationship stability: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 502512.
Kumashiro, M., Rusbult, C. E., & Finkel, E. J. (2008). Navigating personal and relational concerns: The quest for equilibrium. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 94110.
Lavner, J. A. & Bradbury, T. N. (2017). Protecting relationships from stress. Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 1114.
Lemay, E. P. Jr. & Clark, M. S. (2008). “You’re just saying that:” Contingencies of self-worth, suspicion, and authenticity in the interpersonal affirmation process. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 13761382.
Lemay, E. P. Jr. & Dudley, K. L. (2011). Caution: Fragile! Regulating the interpersonal security of chronically insecure partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 681702.
Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of Topological Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Little, K. C., McNulty, J. K., & Russell, V. M. (2010). Sex buffers intimates against the negative implications of attachment insecurity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 484498.
MacDonald, G., Locke, K. D., Spielmann, S. S., & Joel, S. (2013). Insecure attachment predicts ambivalent social threat and reward perceptions in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 647661.
Marigold, D. C., Holmes, J. G., & Ross, M. (2007). More than words: Reframing compliments from romantic partners fosters security in low self-esteem individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 232248.
Marigold, D. C., Holmes, J. G., & Ross, M. (2010). Fostering relationship resilience: An intervention for low self-esteem individuals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 624630.
Mikulincer, M. (1998). Attachment working models and the sense of trust: An exploration of interaction goals and affect regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 12091224.
Mikulincer, M. & Florian, V. (1998). The relationship between adult attachment styles and emotional and cognitive reactions to stressful events. In Simpson, J. A. & Rholes, W. S. (Eds.), Attachment Theory and Close Relationships (pp. 143165). New York: Guilford.
Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., & Shaver, P. R. (2002). Activation of the attachment system in adulthood: Threat-related primes increase the accessibility of mental representations of attachment figures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 881.
Mikulincer, M. & Shaver, P. R. (2016). Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change (2nd ed.). New York: Guildford.
Murray, S. L. & Holmes, J. G. (2009). The architecture of interdependent minds: A motivation-management theory of mutual responsiveness. Psychological Review, 116, 908928.
Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Collins, N. L. (2006). Optimizing assurances: The risk regulation system in relationships. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 641666.
Murray, S. L., Pinkus, R. T., Holmes, J. G., Harris, B., Gomillion, S., Aloni, M., … Leder, S. (2011). Signaling when (and when not) to be cautious and self-protective: Impulsive and reflective trust in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 485.
Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R. (2004). How does context affect intimate relationships? Linking external stress and cognitive processes within marriage. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 134148.
Neyer, F. J. (2002). The dyadic interdependence of attachment security and dependency: A conceptual replication across older twin pairs and younger couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 483503.
Noftle, E. E. & Shaver, P. R. (2006). Attachment dimensions and the big five personality traits: Associations and comparative ability to predict relationship quality. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 179208.
Overall, N. C., Girme, Y. U., Lemay, E. P. Jr., & Hammond, M. T. (2014). Attachment anxiety and reactions to relationship threat: The benefits and costs of inducing guilt in romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 235256.
Overall, N. C., Girme, Y. U., & Simpson, J. A. (2016). The power of diagnostic situations: How support and conflict can foster growth and security. In Knee, C. R. & Reis, H. T. (Eds.), Positive Approaches to Optimal Development (pp. 148170). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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, 854871.
Pierce, T. & Lydon, J. (1998). Priming relational schemas: Effects of contextually activated and chronically accessible interpersonal expectations on responses to a stressful event. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 14411448.
Pietromonaco, P. R. & Barrett, L. F. (1997). Working models of attachment and daily social interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 14091423.
Pietromonaco, P. R. & Carnelley, K. B. (1994). Gender and working models of attachment: Consequences for perceptions of self and romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 1, 6382.
Reis, H. T. & Arriaga, X. B. (2015). Interdependence theory. In Gawronski, B. & Bodenhausen, G. (Eds.), Theory and Explanation in Social Psychology (pp. 305327). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Reis, H. T. & Holmes, J. G. (2012). Perspectives on the situation. In Deaux, K. & Snyder, M. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology (pp. 6492). New York: Oxford University Press.
Ren, D., Arriaga, X. B., & Mahan, E. R. (2016). Attachment insecurity and perceived importance of relational features. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 446466.
Rusbult, C. E., Finkel, E. J., & Kumashiro, M. (2009). The Michelangelo phenomenon. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 305309.
Rusbult, C. E. & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2003). Interdependence, interaction, and relationships. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 351375.
Rusbult, C. E. & Van Lange, P. A. (2008). Why we need interdependence theory. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 20492070.
Rusbult, C. E., Verette, J., Whitney, G. A., Slovik, L. F., & Lipkus, I. (1991). Accommodation processes in close relationships: Theory and preliminary empirical evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 5378.
Salvatore, J. E., Kuo, S. I., Steele, R. D., Simpson, J. A., & Collins, W. A. (2011). Recovering from conflict in romantic relationships: A developmental perspective. Psychological Science, 22, 376383.
Simpson, J. A. (2007). Psychological foundations of trust. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 264268.
Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., Campbell, L., & Wilson, C. L. (2003). Changes in attachment orientations across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 317331.
Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Nelligan, J. S. (1992). Support seeking and support giving within couples in an anxiety-provoking situation: The role of attachment styles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 434446.
Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Phillips, D. (1996). Conflict in close relationships: An attachment perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 899914.
Simpson, J. A., Winterheld, H. A., Rholes, S. R., & Oriña, M. M. (2007). Working models of attachment and reactions to different forms of caregiving from romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 466477.
Stanton, S., Selcuk, E., Farrell, A. K., Slatcher, R. B., & Ong, A. D. (2017). Partner responsiveness predicts all-cause mortality via daily negative affect reactivity: A 20-year longitudinal study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 79, A148.
Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. In Berkowitz, L. & Berkowitz, L. (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology: Vol. 21. Social Psychological Studies of the Self: Perspectives and Programs (pp. 261302). San Diego, CA: Academic.
Tran, S. & Simpson, J. A. (2009). Prorelationship maintenance behaviors: The joint roles of attachment and commitment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 685698.