Beware: Psychologists study romantic relationships
U.S. psychology researchers have published a new study that explores how people manage romantic relationships. As often in this field, if it is not fancyful analytical speculation, it is some obscure factor-analytical construct, that is later embroidered with pseudomeaning, that drives the resulting interpretation.
Anyway, University of Illinois Professor R. Chris Fraley and graduate student Amanda Vicary looked at the choices people make in their dating relationships, focusing on how each partner’s outlook influences his or her choices and satisfaction with the romance.
The online study took participants through a series of scenarios about a relationship with a fictional partner. Each scenario ended with two options, from which the participant chose his or her response.
“The interesting thing is that all the participants were reacting to the same person, the same scenario,” said Vicary. “And yet the pattern of their responses was quite different.”
The researchers found a study participant’s attachment style — secure or insecure, anxious or intimacy-avoidant — was a good predictor of the pattern of his or her choices.
“People who are highly insecure are more likely to interpret their partners’ actions in a negative way and then choose to respond in kind,” Vicary said. The most secure individuals more often chose the positive, relationship-enhancing options.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association 2007, Vol. 92, No. 2, 355–367 0022-3514/07
Attachment and the Experience and Expression of Emotions in Romantic Relationships: A Developmental Perspective
Jeffry A. Simpson, W. Andrew Collins, SiSi Tran, and Katherine C. Haydon
University of Minnesota
In this longitudinal study, the authors tested a developmental hypothesis derived from attachment theory and recent empirical findings. Target participants were 78 individuals who have been studied intensively from infancy into their mid-20s. When targets were 20–23 years old, the authors tested the way in which interpersonal experiences at 3 pivotal points in each target’s earlier social development—infancy/early childhood, early elementary school, and adolescence—predicted the pattern of positive versus negative emotions experienced with his or her romantic partner. A double-mediation model revealed that targets classified as securely attached at 12 months old were rated as more socially competent during early
elementary school by their teachers. Targets’ social competence, in turn, forecasted their having more secure relationships with close friends at age 16, which in turn predicted more positive daily emotional experiences in their adult romantic relationships (both self- and partner-reported) and less negative affect in conflict resolution and collaborative tasks with their romantic partners (rated by observers). These results are discussed in terms of attachment theory and how antecedent life experiences may indirectly shape events in current relationships.
Keywords: attachment, emotions, romantic relationships, peer relationships
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 11, 1524-1536 (2005) DOI: 10.1177/0146167205276865
© 2005 Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
Reliability and Validity of the Revised Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-R) Self-Report Measure of Adult Romantic Attachment Chris G. Sibley, Ronald Fischer, James H. LiuVictoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Three studies examine the psychometric properties (i.e., the test-retest reliability, convergent, and discriminant validity) of Fraley, Waller, and Brennan’s Revised Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-R) self-report measure of romantic attachment anxiety (model of self) and avoidance (model of others). Longitudinal analyses suggest that the ECR-R provided highly stable indicators of latent attachment during a 3-week period (85% shared variance). Hierarchical linear modeling analyses further validated the ECR-R, suggesting that it explained between 30% to 40% of the between-person variation in social interaction diary ratings of attachment-related emotions experienced during interactions with a romantic partner and only 5% to 15% of that in interactions with family and friends. Guidelines are offered regarding the conditions where highly reliable and precise measures of romantic attachment, such as the ECR-R, are deemed necessary and where shorter, albeit slightly less reliable measures, such as Bartholomew and Horowitz’s Relationship Questionnaire, may also be viable.
Key Words: romantic attachment • measurement • validity • reliability • psychometrics