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What is attachment theory?
- Bowlby (1973)
- Infants must develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver
- Infants seek proximity when distressed
- Separation leads to protest (crying and searching) despair (deeper issues such as depression) then detachment (symptoms subside)
- Supported by Harlow (1958) monkeys show these traits when separated from comforting objects and mothers
- This is echoed in romantic partners
- We seek them when distressed
- Similar processes occur when separation occurs (Parkes, 1972)
What effects does attachment theory have on development?
- Self concepts and beliefs such as self worth and our perception of others develop in childhood
- These influence but do not determine adult attachments
What does secure attachment lead to?
- Brennan et al (1995)
- More stable and satisfying relationships
- Knowledge that proximity seeking leads to support and comfort (turn to others when distressed)
- The belief that distress is manageable
- Distress is acknowledged and events are seen as less stressful
What does attachment anxiety lead to?
- Strong need to be close to people, accepted and reassured
- Hyperactivity of negative thought and emotion
- Hyper-vigilant focus on attachment figures
- Distance from attachment figures minimised
- Clinging and controlling
- More likely to hold on to feelings for an ex (Spielmann et al., 2010)
- Try harder when meeting new potential dates (Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2010)
- Less selective at speed dating (McClure et al., 2010)
- Fear of being single (Spielmann et al., 2013)
What does attachment avoidance lead to?
- Feelings of independence, low desire for social bonds
- Uncomfortable with closeness, self disclosure and feeling and expressing intimacy
- Deactivation of attachment systems (avoid intimacy by not acknowledging distress and suppressing distressing thoughts and memories)
- Expect relationship failure (Birnie et al, 2009)
- Lower commitment (Gere et al, 2013)
- More infidelity (DeWalle et al, 2011)
- Separation doesn't lead to attachment worries unless under cognitive load (Rholes et al, 2007)
- Avoid attention to attachment words unless under cognitive load (Edelstein & Gillath, 2008)
- Low accuracy in reading the emotions of their partner (Simpson et al, 2011)
How does childhood experience affect adult attachment?
- Sensitive maternal caregiving at 18 months
- predicted less anxiety and avoidance with
- romantic partners at 22 years (Zayas et al., 2011)
- Secure infants had higher quality conflict
- discussions & more relationship satisfaction as adults (Roisman et al., 2005)
40% environment, 60% genetic (Donnellan et al., 2008; Picardi et al, 2010)
How can relationship closeness be built?
- Provide opportunities for people to help and co-operate
- Experiment in trust (trust falls)
- Promote self disclosure with increasing intimacy
- Share new experience and create shared memories
- Mutually share personal experiences
How can you make someone fall in love?
- Aron et al 2013: the experimental generation of interpersonal closeness
- 36 questions requiring increasing levels of trust, disclosure and intimacy
- E.g, if you could wake up tomorrow having gained any quality or ability what would it be?
What is the investment model?
- Rusbult (1980)
- Composed of 3 levels that are positively correlated with commitment:
- Satisfaction level
- Quality of alternatives
- Investment size
How do satisfaction levels affect investments?
- To what extent are your needs met?
- All relationships experience levels of low satisfaction
How do alternatives affect investments?
- The quality of alternatives is the attractiveness of the best available alternative to a relationship
- Can my needs be met elsewhere?
How does investment size affect investments?
The amount of resources that are tied up in a relationship and, should it end, would decline in value
How does the investment model relate to abusive relationships?
- Desire to leave and level of abuse is the satisfaction
- The levels of education and income are the alternatives
- The duration of the relationship and marital status is the investment (Rusbult & Martz, 1995)
What have studies found about relarionship dissolution?
- Most first marriages will end in divorce or
- permanent separation (Bramlett & Mosher, 2002)
Even in marriages that remain in tact, newlyweds’ initially high levels of marital satisfaction declines over time (Van Laningham et al. 2001).
What are positive illusions?
- Essential to relarionships (Murray, Holmes, &
- Griffin, 1996)
- Perceptual bias towards the positive
When the negative cannot be ignored, shift what is important to you in a relationship (Neff & Karney, 2003)
Why are positive illusions hard to maintain?
- Making allowances for a spouses inevitable
- shortcomings is difficult. It is cognitively demanding and requires attention and motivation
- Ability to maintain positive illusions is undermined by:
- Cognitive styles, personality traits, childhood
- Strains: work load, financial stress, health
What do implications do findings about separations raise?
- Public policy that improves family and individual
- well-being and welfare should reduce strain and
- increase capacity for maintaining positive illusions
Norway: After the government began offering cash incentives to parents that elected to stay home with children, divorce rates fell significantly (Hardoy & Schone, 2008)
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