Added: Tyresha Dwight - Date: 23.05.2022 02:44 - Views: 47076 - Clicks: 6377
Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Attachment theory provides a useful framework for predicting marital infidelity. However, most research has examined the association between attachment and infidelity in unmarried individuals, and we are aware of no research that has examined the role of partner attachment in predicting infidelity.
In contrast to research showing that attachment anxiety is unrelated to infidelity among dating couples, 2 longitudinal studies of newlywed marriages demonstrated that own and partner attachment anxiety interacted to predict marital infidelity, such that spouses were more likely to perpetrate infidelity when either they or their partner was high vs. Further, and also in contrast to research on dating couples, own attachment avoidance was unrelated to infidelity whereas partner attachment avoidance was negatively associated with infidelity indicating that spouses were less likely to perpetrate infidelity when their partner was high vs.
These effects emerged controlling for marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, and personality, did not differ across husbands and wives, and did not differ across the two studies, with the exception that the negative association between partner attachment avoidance and own infidelity only emerged in one of the two studies. These findings offer a more complete understanding of the implications of attachment insecurity for marital infidelity and suggest that studies of unmarried individuals may not provide complete insights into the implications of various psychological traits and processes for marriage.
Such infidelities can have serious negative consequences for those involved. Further, the victims and perpetrators of infidelity also frequently experience negative intrapersonal outcomes, such as decreased self-esteem Shackelford, , increased risk of mental health problems e. Identifying psychological characteristics that may be associated with a risk of perpetrating infidelity may help interventions to better target such individuals. Attachment theory e. According to that theory, intimates develop mental representations of the availability of close others that lead to strong cognitive and behavioral patterns of responding to those others.
Whereas those who develop a secure attachment style tend to believe close others are available to them and behave accordingly, those who develop an insecure attachment style, i. Both types of insecurity may be associated with marital infidelity. Accordingly, they may be more likely than individuals low in attachment anxiety to seek intimacy with another partner through infidelity. Individuals high in attachment avoidance tend to be chronically less committed to their relationships DeWall et al.
We are aware of three published reports describing a total of 10 studies that have addressed the role of attachment in predicting infidelity. Nevertheless, several qualities of these studies limit conclusions regarding the role of attachment insecurity in predicting infidelity in marriage.
Most notably, although attachment processes may operate differently in marriage than in dating relationships, only 3 of the 10 studies involved a substantial of married spouses. One way in which married partners differ from partners in dating relationships is that married partners tend to be more committed to their relationships e.
Such differences may emerge because married partners are more likely to engage in behaviors that lead to greater commitment e. Indeed, more committed individuals are more likely to derogate attractive alternatives than are less committed individuals e. Accordingly, the psychological characteristics of those who commit infidelity in marriage may be different than the psychological characteristics of those who commit infidelity in dating relationships. Unfortunately, the three studies that examined the implications of attachment insecurity and infidelity among married people were inconclusive.
DeWall and colleagues described one study Study 6 that was comprised of both married community spouses and dating undergraduates and revealed a ificant positive association between attachment avoidance and interest in alternative partners and no association between attachment anxiety and interest in alternative partners.
However, a DeWall et al. In contrast, Bogaert and Sadava reported a ificant positive association between attachment anxiety and infidelity but no association between attachment avoidance and infidelity using a community sample of people who were in a committed relationship, engaged, or married.
However, a Bogaert and Sadava did not report how many people were married versus unmarried or whether their varied across married and unmarried people and b their infidelity variable did not distinguish between perpetrators of infidelity and the partners of such perpetrators. Finally, the positive association that Allen and Baucom reported between attachment avoidance and the of extra-dyadic involvements in their sample of married participants did not reach statistical ificance. A second limitation of the existing research is that none of these studies controlled for numerous third variables that may explain the link between attachment and infidelity.
Yet, none of the studies controlled for sexual frequency. Finally, attachment insecurity is associated with various other individual differences in personality that are also associated with attachment and infidelity. Nevertheless, none of the studies controlled for these other individual differences. The fact that anxiously-attached intimates tend to seek constant reassurance and cling to their partners may lead such partners to seek out alternative relationships. Indeed, individuals with anxiously-attached partners tend to report less commitment to their relationships Simpson, , which, as noted earlier, is positively associated with the likelihood of infidelity Drigotas et al, Likewise, the fact that avoidantly-attached intimates tend to avoid behaviors that promote intimacy may lead their partners to seek intimacy in other relationships.
Indeed, individuals with avoidantly-attached partners tend to view those partners as less caring and supportive Kane et al. Finally, no studies have reported the interactive effects of own and partner attachment insecurity in predicting marital infidelity. Several effects are possible. It may be that insecurity in either partner is enough to increase the likelihood of infidelity, such that spouses will demonstrate an increased likelihood of infidelity if either they or their partner are high in either form of attachment insecurity.
Alternatively, it is possible that security in either partner is sufficient to decrease the likelihood of infidelity, such that spouses will only demonstrate an increased likelihood of infidelity if they and their partner are both high in attachment insecurity. Finally, the particular combinations of insecurity might matter, such that people high in attachment anxiety may be particularly likely to perpetrate infidelity if their partner is high in attachment avoidance or particularly unlikely to perpetrate infidelity if their partner is also high in attachment anxiety.
We used data from two extant longitudinal data sets to examine the role of attachment insecurity in predicting infidelity. These studies addressed the aforementioned limitations of studies in several ways. First, whereas research has examined infidelity in dating relationships, the current studies used two samples of newlywed couples to identify how attachment insecurity affects infidelity in marriage. Although newlyweds may tend to perpetrate infidelity less frequently on average, leading to a rather conservative test of our hypotheses, they may be more similar to people in dating relationships than are couples in more-established marriages on variables other than commitment e.
Second, given that third variables, such as personality, sexual frequency, and marital satisfaction, may for the association between attachment and infidelity, the current studies controlled for these variables. Both studies used virtually identical methods and thus are described simultaneously.
We made the following predictions. Given that people high in anxious attachment may be more likely to have unmet needs for intimacy that they try to fulfill with extramarital sex, we predicted that attachment anxiety would be positively associated with engaging in infidelity. Additionally, given that avoidantly-attached individuals tend to be less committed to their relationships on average, which has been shown to predict infidelity in unmarried individuals, we also predicted that attachment avoidance would also be positively associated with engaging in infidelity.
Finally, given that anxiously- and avoidantly-attached individuals tend to behave in ways that may lead their partners to seek out alternative relationships, we also predicted that partner attachment anxiety and partner attachment avoidance would also be positively associated with engaging in infidelity. We also conducted exploratory analyses to test the interactive effects of own and partner attachment on infidelity, but made no strong predictions regarding which of the numerous potential patterns would emerge. Participants in Study 1 were 72 newlywed couples recruited from northern Ohio; participants in Study 2 were newlywed couples recruited from eastern Tennessee.
All participants were recruited through advertisements placed in community newspapers and bridal shops and through invitations sent to eligible couples who had applied for marriage s in counties near the studies' locations. Couples who responded were screened in a telephone interview to ensure they met the following eligibility criteria: a They had been married for less than 6 months, b neither partner had been ly married, c they were at least 18 years of age, and d they spoke English and had completed at least 10 years of education to ensure comprehension of the questionnaires.
Additionally, Study 2 added the criteria that couples did not already have children and that wives were not older than 35 years because a larger aim of Study 2 was to examine the transition to parenthood. Husbands in Study 1 were Wives in Study 1 were In both studies, participants were mailed a packet of questionnaires to complete at home and bring with them to a laboratory session where they completed a consent form approved by the local human subjects review board and participated in a variety of tasks beyond the scope of the current analyses.
The packet contained self-report measures of attachment insecurity, marital satisfaction, frequency of sexual intercourse, and the Big Five personality traits. To ensure that participants felt comfortable disclosing sensitive information, we a instructed them to complete their questionnaires independently of one another and not to discuss the questionnaires with one another, b included separate sealable envelopes in which they were to place their completed questionnaires so their partners were not able to easily view their responses, and c informed them that we would not share their responses with their partners.
Every 6 to 8 months subsequent to the initial assessment, participants were again mailed a packet of questionnaires that contained the same measures of sexual frequency and marital satisfaction, as well as a measure of infidelity. We again employed the same tactics to ensure that participants felt comfortable reporting sensitive information.
These follow-up procedures were used six times and spanned the first 3. Given that people who were less likely to complete all waves of data collection had fewer opportunities to report an infidelity, and given that such people may also be higher or lower in attachment insecurity, we controlled for whether or not people completed all waves of measurement and examined whether or not that variable moderated any key effects.
As we report, this variable did not moderate any of the effects. Two items assessed whether or not each individual perpetrated infidelity during the course of each study. Participants answered each question approximately every 6 months for the duration of each study. Although this estimate is low compared to other estimates Atkins et al.
Four of these infidelities were reported by both members of the couple, 7 were reported by the spouse who perpetrated the infidelity, and 11 were reported by the partner of the spouse who perpetrated the infidelity. The ECR is a continuous measure of attachment insecurity that identifies the extent to which a person is characterized by two dimensions: Attachment Anxiety and Attachment Avoidance.
The Attachment Anxiety subscale is comprised of 18 statements that describe the degree of concern intimates have about losing or being unable to become sufficiently close to a partner and the Attachment Avoidance subscale is comprised of 18 statements that describe the extent to which partners attempt to maintain distance from a partner.
Appropriate items were reversed and all items were averaged, with higher scores indicating greater attachment insecurity. The QMI contains six items that ask spouses to report the extent of their agreement with general statements about their marriage. Thus, scores could range from 6 to 45, with higher scores reflecting greater marital satisfaction. Sexual frequency was assessed at each wave of data collection by asking both members of the couple to provide a numerical estimate of the of times they had engaged in sexual intercourse with their marital partner over the past 6 months— the length of time since the assessment.
were not different if individual-level sexual frequency was used instead. Given our desire to control for other individual differences that may be associated with attachment insecurity and infidelity, and given that the five-factor model of personality theoretically captures all dispositional qualities of personality Goldberg, , we assessed these five dimensions openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism at baseline using the Big Five Personality Inventory-Short Goldberg et al.
Descriptive statistics for the independent variables for both studies are presented in Table 1. Spouses reported relatively high levels of satisfaction and sexual frequency across each study, on average. Also, husbands and wives reported being relatively securely attached, on average.
To control these and any other differences between participants and aspects of the two studies, we controlled for study in all primary analyses. Correlations between the variables are presented in Table 2. As can be seen, husbands' and wives' reports of attachment anxiety were positively associated with their reports of attachment avoidance and neuroticism and negatively associated with marital satisfaction, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness.
Husbands' reports of attachment avoidance were positively associated with neuroticism and negatively associated with marital satisfaction, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness. Wives' reports of attachment avoidance were positively associated with neuroticism and negatively associated with marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, extraversion, and agreeableness.
Correlations are presented above the diagonal for wives and below the diagonal for husbands; correlations between husbands and wives appear on the diagonal in bold. Because our hypotheses addressed the implications of absolute-levels of attachment insecurity, rather than variations of attachment insecurity within each couple, all variables were grand-centered around the sample mean.
The level-2 intercept was allowed to vary randomly across couples. Because the dependent variable was binary, we specified a Bernoulli outcome distribution. of this analysis are presented in Table 3. As can be seen, consistent with expectations, but in contrast to research on dating couples DeWall et al. Specifically, people who scored one point higher than the mean on the attachment anxiety subscale were more than twice as likely to perpetrate infidelity as people who scored at the mean on the scale.
In contrast to expectations, however, and also in contrast to what has been found in research on dating relationships DeWall et al. Notably, low power cannot explain why attachment avoidance was not positively associated with own infidelity because the direction of the non-ificant effect was negative.Be attached or married
email: [email protected] - phone:(604) 949-8472 x 4199
How childhood attachment impacts your marriage