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Adult attachment and mental representations of significant others

Adult attachment and mental representations of significant others
Adult attachment and mental representations of significant others
According to attachment theory, the infant shapes perceptions on self and significant others based on his or her experience with the primary caregiver. These perceptions include thoughts and beliefs regards the extent to which the self is worthy of love, and the extent to which others are reliable sources of love and protection. Thoughts and beliefs about the self are defined as working models of self, thoughts and belief about others are defined as working models of others.

To date, attachment researchers have characterized individual differences in working models predominantly in terms of valence (positive versus negative). However, there are both theoretical and empirical reasons to suggest that it may not be sufficient, and that working models also differ between individuals in terms of stability and organizational structure. Accordingly, the current thesis investigated the proposal that individual differences in attachment relates to change in working models, in specific models of significant others, in response to transient evaluative events.

Five studies examined the association between individual differences in attachment and systematic fluctuations in appraisals of significant others (romantic partners), and the psychological processes that underlie them. Study 1 showed that people with high levels of attachment anxiety hold unstable views of their romantic partners. Study 2 and Study 3 provided evidence that under threat to the ego or threat to the relationship people with high levels of attachment anxiety decrease esteem for their romantic partner. In Study 4 and Study 5 higher levels of attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were both associated with greater ambivalence towards the romantic partner.

Overall, findings supported the proposal that working models of attachment differ not only in terms of how positively or negatively others are perceived, but also in terms of the temporal stability of these perceptions. These findings have implications for research in the domains of attachment and romantic relationships, and on romantic relationships' functioning
Alfasi, Yitshak
3eeb21d2-35fb-48c1-a818-d426e9987fbd
Alfasi, Yitshak
3eeb21d2-35fb-48c1-a818-d426e9987fbd
Gramzow, Richard H.
59d755fb-4c53-459b-93e8-afdb9709addc

Alfasi, Yitshak (2011) Adult attachment and mental representations of significant others. University of Southampton, School of Psychology, Doctoral Thesis, 148pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

According to attachment theory, the infant shapes perceptions on self and significant others based on his or her experience with the primary caregiver. These perceptions include thoughts and beliefs regards the extent to which the self is worthy of love, and the extent to which others are reliable sources of love and protection. Thoughts and beliefs about the self are defined as working models of self, thoughts and belief about others are defined as working models of others.

To date, attachment researchers have characterized individual differences in working models predominantly in terms of valence (positive versus negative). However, there are both theoretical and empirical reasons to suggest that it may not be sufficient, and that working models also differ between individuals in terms of stability and organizational structure. Accordingly, the current thesis investigated the proposal that individual differences in attachment relates to change in working models, in specific models of significant others, in response to transient evaluative events.

Five studies examined the association between individual differences in attachment and systematic fluctuations in appraisals of significant others (romantic partners), and the psychological processes that underlie them. Study 1 showed that people with high levels of attachment anxiety hold unstable views of their romantic partners. Study 2 and Study 3 provided evidence that under threat to the ego or threat to the relationship people with high levels of attachment anxiety decrease esteem for their romantic partner. In Study 4 and Study 5 higher levels of attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were both associated with greater ambivalence towards the romantic partner.

Overall, findings supported the proposal that working models of attachment differ not only in terms of how positively or negatively others are perceived, but also in terms of the temporal stability of these perceptions. These findings have implications for research in the domains of attachment and romantic relationships, and on romantic relationships' functioning

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More information

Published date: 18 July 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 193655
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/193655
PURE UUID: b6a0bddd-d0b2-44d6-9500-1ae7e610e748

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Date deposited: 18 Jul 2011 11:19
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:28

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