Working models of attachment and reactions to different forms of caregiving from romantic partners. Academic Article uri icon


  • Inspired by attachment theory, the authors tested a series of theoretically derived predictions about connections between attachment working models (attachment to one's parents assessed by the Adult Attachment Interview; M. Main & R. Goldwyn, 1994) and the effectiveness of specific types of caregiving spontaneously displayed by dating partners during a stressful conflict-resolution discussion. Each partner first completed the Adult Attachment Interview. One week later, each couple was videotaped while they tried to resolve a current problem in their relationship. Trained observers then rated each interaction for the degree to which (a) emotional, instrumental, and physical caregiving behaviors were displayed; (b) care recipients appeared calmed by their partners' caregiving attempts; and (c) each partner appeared distressed during the discussion. Individuals who had more secure representations of their parents were rated as being more calmed if/when their partners provided greater emotional care, especially if they were rated as more distressed. Conversely, individuals who had more insecure (dismissive) representations of their parents reacted more favorably to instrumental caregiving behaviors from their partners, especially if they were more distressed. The broader theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Simpson, J. A., Winterheld, H. A., Rholes, W. S., & Oria, M. M.

citation count

  • 110

complete list of authors

  • Simpson, Jeffry A||Winterheld, Heike A||Rholes, W Steven||OriƱa, M Minda

publication date

  • January 2007