Sep 9, 2014

Attachment Styles and Relationship Attributes

Attachment Styles and 
Corresponding Relationship Attributes
in Adults, and Related Causal Factors:

Attachment Styles and Percentage of Population -

  Secure 60%:
o   Positive views of themselves, their partners and their relationships.1
o   Feel comfortable with intimacy and independence, balancing the two.1

Generally speaking: It is relatively easy to become emotionally close to others. Comfortable depending on others and having others depend on them. Don't worry about being alone or having others not accepting them.2

Generally caused by the mother's responsiveness to an infant by:
o   Responding quickly and consistently to her child's signals of wanting comfort and security.3
o   The child feels confident that his or her mother will help fulfill any needs when they occur.3

  Anxious-preoccupied (insecure-ambivalent) 10%:
o   Seek high levels of intimacy, approval and responsiveness from partners, becoming overly dependent.1
o   Less trusting.1
o   Less positive views about themselves and their partners.1
o   Exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry and impulsiveness in their relationships.1

Generally speaking: Want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but they often find that others are reluctant to get as close as they would like. They are uncomfortable being without close relationships, but sometimes worry that others don't value them much as they value others.2

Generally caused by the mother's responsiveness to an infant by:
o   Mostly disengaged; when the child is showing signs of distress, the mother shows little or no response. The mother often aims at making the child independent.3
o   The child learns that his or her needs will probably not be met and therefore doesn't engage in typical attachment behavior such as crying or reaching out.3

  Dismissive-avoidant (insecure-avoidant) 15%:
o   High level of independence, often appearing to avoid attachment altogether.1
o   Self-sufficient, invulnerable to attachment feelings and not needing close relationships.1
o   Suppress their feelings, dealing with rejection by distancing themselves from partners of whom they often have a poor opinion.1

Generally speaking: They are comfortable without close emotional relationships. Very important to them to feel independent and self-sufficient, and they prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on them.2

Generally caused by the mother's responsiveness to an infant by:
o   Responses occur on the mother's terms ... in other words; when she feels like it.3
o   Her availability is therefore inconsistent; She changes between sensitive responsiveness and neglectful responses.3
o   The child doesn't feel he or she can rely on her to fulfil his or her needs.3

  Fearful-avoidant (disorganized/disoriented) 15%:
o   Mixed feelings about close relationships, both desiring and feeling uncomfortable with emotional closeness.1
o   Mistrust their partners and view themselves as unworthy.1
o   Seek less intimacy, suppressing their feelings.1

Generally speaking: They are somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. They want emotionally close relationships, but find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on others. They sometimes worry that they will be hurt if they allow themselves to become too close to others.2

Generally caused by the mother's responsiveness to an infant by:
o   The mother's extreme and erratic behavior makes it difficult for the child to form a coherent coping strategy: A mother is like a mirror to her child. So when a child looks at his mother and sees something incomprehensible, the child has no way on understanding himself or his own behavior.3
o   These infants are more often maltreated and seen in what is termed 'high risk samples' (e.g. raised in extreme poverty, with alcoholic parents etc.) than 'normal middle-class samples)3

1.      Hazan C, Shaver PR (March 1987). "Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52 (3): 511–24. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.52.3.511. PMID 3572722.
2.      Bartholomew, K. & Horowitz, L.M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61, 226-244.
3.      Ainsworth. Mary D. (1978) Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-89859-461-8.


There is no right or wrong attachment style. You may have a combination of one or more of the attachment styles. I know mine is an "insecure - avoidant - ambivalent" mix.

It's important to know your type because it influences your partner selection and your primary means of conflict resolution.  But that is for another post...  :-)

Comment and let us know what is your attachment style and how has it influenced your relationships?

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