Conflict in close relationships: an attachment perspective. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study investigated how perceptions of current dating partners and relationships change after people with different attachment orientations attempt to resolve a problem in their relationship. Dating couples were videotaped while they tried to resolve either a major or a minor problem. Confirming predictions from attachment theory, men and women who had a more ambivalent orientation perceived their partner and relationship in relatively less positive terms after discussing a major problem. Observer ratings revealed that more ambivalent women who tried to resolve a major problem displayed particularly strong stress and anxiety and engaged in more negative behaviors. Conversely, men with a more avoidant orientation were rated as less warm and supportive, especially if they discussed a major problem. These results are discussed in terms of how highly ambivalent and highly avoidant people differentially perceive and respond to distressing events.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Phillips, D.

citation count

  • 645

complete list of authors

  • Simpson, JA||Rholes, WS||Phillips, D

publication date

  • November 1996