Affective Responses to Partner-Regulation Attempts as a Function of Attachment Orientation

Date

2017

Authors

Witherell, Stephanie Marie

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Abstract

While most prior research has found that partner-regulation attempts are associated with negative affective responses on the part of the target, conflicting research has shown that some individuals experience positive affect as a result of regulation attempts. The aim of this study was to contribute to filling this gap, looking at how attachment orientation contributes to the likelihood of experiencing positive or negative affect in response to partner-regulation. Simple linear regressions were performed to ascertain how avoidance and anxiety predict affect. Neither avoidant nor anxious attachment predicted negative-affect intensity when negatively valenced regulation tactics are used, but both predicted negative affect-intensity when positive tactics are used. This suggests that targets of negative tactics respond in kind, regardless of their attachment orientation, though those with insecure attachment orientations respond negatively to tactics that are otherwise relatively innocuous. Between avoidant and anxious attachment, anxious attachment was found to be the stronger predictor of negative affect-intensity with the use of positive tactics. Additionally, it was found that affect intensity differs between positive and negative tactics, with negative affective responses to negative tactics being the strongest. Furthermore, differences in how avoidance and anxiety predict being the agent and target of both positive and negative tactics were found. These results suggest that both avoidant individuals and anxious individuals are more prone to utilizing positive rather than negative tactics, though avoidance was predictive only of being the target of negative tactics and anxiety was predictive of being the target of both positive and negative tactics.

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Keywords

Affect, Attachment, Regulation, Relationships

Citation

Department

Psychology