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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? THE ASSOCIATION S OF A TTACHMENT STYLE AND ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP IDEALS WITH ATTRACTION BY CHERYL ASKEY A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Steven Graham Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? ii Dedication Although it may seem a bit backward, I dedicate this thesis to all of the bad relationships I have had in the past. Without those experiences I would not have been sufficiently inspired to embark on this research endeavor. From bitter memories grow sweet ambitions; I will forever believe in silver linings.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? iii Acknowledgements To my committee An overwhelming amount of thanks must be awarded to my thesis sponsor, Dr. Steven Graham, for helping me piece apart and reconstruct my research topic for over a year and guiding me through this gruelin g process. Dr. Heidi Harley, you sure do know how to turn panic and anxiety into positive feelings of motivation. Thank you for constantly cheering me on. Dr. Michelle Barton, this document exists because of your Research Methods class and having my butt h anded back to me weekly. The APA should thank you for teaching their format so brilliantly. To my family You deserve medals, honors, and accolades galore. Faja, you instilled in me a love of knowledge and a passion for enjoying the little things in life. Momma, you have been my rock, my guiding light, my idol, my biggest fan. I will To my friends Thank you for staying by my side enduring late night writing parties, and encouraging me to keep on chugging. I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN! A special thanks to Destiny: words will never accurately encapsulate the positive impact you have had on my life and my spirit. There has never bee n a better friend in all of creation, of that I am sure. To my participants There would literally be no thesis without you. Anonymous
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? iv Table of Contents Introductio n 1 2 What is At ta chment Style 2 Relationships: Their Formation, Mainten ance, and Dissolution 4 Transference from One Rela tionship to Anothe r 10 Rel ationship Idea ls 1 1 What are Relationship Idea ls ? 1 1 Seeking Out a Partne r 12 Relationships: The ir Start U p and Tune U p 13 Romantic Attraction a 1 5 .1 6 1 7 Participa 7 Materials 8 Procedur e 1 9 20 Attachment Style and Perception of P rofiles 20 Romantic Relationship Ideals 2 1
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? v Relatio nship Histor y 21 Discussi on 2 2 Perceptio n of Profiles 2 2 Att .. 23 24 Relationship History 2 4 Romantic 26 Limitations and Futu re Research 2 7 8 .2 9 34 35 3 6
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? vi WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? THE ASSOCIATIONS OF ATTACHMENT STYLE AND ROMANT IC RELATIONSHIP IDEALS WITH ATTRACTION Cheryl Askey New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT The associations between attachment style and romantic relationship ideals were studied as participants were presented with dating profiles created by potential romantic partners. One hundred and forty three participants completed questionnaires assessing their attachment style and romantic relationship ideals before viewing f our potential partner profiles. Attraction, willingness to date, honesty, and perceived romantic relationship ideals were also assessed based on the profile participants thought was most attractive Significant correlations were found between the attachment measures and the measures of attr action and willingness to dat e. Anxie ty was positively correlated with attraction toward the preoccupied and fearful partners, and willingness to date the preoccupied partner. Anxiety was negatively correlated with attraction and willingness to date the dismissive partner. Avoidance was positively correlated with attraction and willingness to date the dismissive partner. These results indicate that a ttachment anxiety and avoidance are related to how attracted a person is to a potential partner profile. Further research is needed to determine what causes these differences in attraction.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? vii Dr. Steven Graham Division of Social Sciences
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 1 What Are You Looking For? The Associations of Attachment Style and Romantic Relationship Ideals with Attraction Imagine two individuals sitting at a coffee shop. They are smiling, their heads close together, eyes locked. Assuming that these two are not relatives it is safe to assume that two people in such a position are friends, on a date, or already involved in a relationship. But what brought these two together to begin with? Can the relationship catalyst be pinned to physical appearance or an emotional spark? Perhaps their connection began with their delightful similarities or unique differences. Better yet, maybe their relationship is like a fairy tale, brought together by fate and ending with a Attraction has been a subject of interest to scholars and laymen for millennia. In Symposium (360 B.C.) Aristophanes credited attraction to the splitting of one spherical, doubled body separated b y Zeus. Once separated, the individual bodies sought out their other half to once again become whole Ren Girard (1977) attributed attraction to the force s of jealousy and rivalry Biologists point out the importance of pheromones and bodily and facial symmetry. Modern theorists, particularly psychologists, discuss the importance of attachment style and romantic relationship ideals in the formation and maintenance of relationships. The belief in a soul mate, an eternal partner, still dominates in mode rn day lay theories of attraction. But what attracts individuals to one another? Do these individuals know what causes their hearts to skip a beat and which characteristics in another person serve as a secure foundation on which love may blossom? The fo llowing literature review includes a review of existing literature on attachment style and attachment in
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 2 relationships, relationship ideals and their function in existing and fledgling romantic relationships, and the effect attraction has on dating behavio r. Attachment Style What Is Attachment Style? (1968, 1973, 1980) work mothers should be available and responsive to their children. At the ti me in which Bowlby conduct ed his research, it was customary for mothers to s tay home with their children. Bowlby proposed that infants would engage in proximity seeking behaviors toward their attachment figure, typically the mother, in order to maintain a sense of security. As such, attachment may be defined as a persistent bond between two people involving the exchange of comfort, security, and care, in which involuntary separation causes marked distress. specifically at attachment style in human infants. In one of their most influential works, Ainsworth and Bell (1970) identified that repeated patterns of attachment behaviors made by the mother child dyads during reunion in the Strange Situation may signal individual differences in attachment relations. The Strange Situation was simply a laboratory setting in which a mother, an infant, and a stranger interacted in a series of eight different episodes of separation and reunion of the mother infant dyad (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970). Three groups were identifie d based on the pattern of behavior exhibited by the infants: Group A (insecure avoidant), Group B (secure), and Group C (insecure resistant). Infants
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 3 tendency to interact with the mother, even at reunion. The stranger was treated in much the same manner as the mother, possibly with less avoidance, and any distress exhibited sence. worked to maintain it. Any distress displayed by the infant at separation was probably n were more than casual (e.g., crying out or smiling). contact with their mother but also showed an interest in finding and maintaining contact with their mother, thus appearing to be ambivalent toward her. Hazan an d Shaver (1987) extrapolat ed the concept of attachment in infancy to adulthood. Studying romantic love, Hazan and Shaver identified that the frequency of the three attachment styles in adulthood is quite similar to those observed in infancy, roughly 56% sec ure, 24% avoidant, and 20% anxious ambivalent. The researchers placed an advertisement in a local newspaper and recruited people willing to comment on their most important love relationship. The participants answered questions about their most important love relationship (past or current), their past relationship with their The participants also answered questions concerning the way they typically felt in relations hips and what they believed was the typical course of a romantic relationship. Questions concerning state and trait loneliness were presented to the college participants. The study was able to identify that the three attachment styles differed from one another and diffe red in the way that love is experienced Childhood interacti ons with parents were associated with the attachment style of the participants.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 4 The various models of attachment style have been altered and augmented over time to include such categories as disorganized/disoriented (Main & Soloman, 1986) and autonomous (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985). One of the most widely recognized and employed models of attachment style is that created by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991). This model determin negative and rejecting to positive and accepting) and model of self (from negative and undeserving of care to positive and deserving), and describes four different attachment styles: secure, preoccup ied, dismissing, and fearful. Secure attachment includes a feeling of worthiness and a positive view of others. Preoccupied attachment includes a feeling of unworthiness and a positive view of others. Dismissing attachment includes a feeling of worthine ss and negative evaluation of others. Fearful attachment includes a feeling of unworthiness and a negative disposition toward others. Although models of the self and others are frequently c ongruent with one another (i.e., positive self, positive others), the four attachment style, providing an appropriate attachment measurement for persons with discordant models of the self and others. As such, t he current s tudy used this model to assess attachment style. Relationships: Their formation, maintenance, and dissolution. Attachment behaviors do not require the existence of a solid relationship. Some researchers proclaim that a complete attachment bond takes approximately two years to form (Fraley & Davis, 1997), a lengthy period of time for any relationship. The and the degree to which the seeking,
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 5 safe haven, secure base) using self report questionnaires. All three of these needs were Even before a re lationship is well established, individuals may experience attachment related feelings and behaviors toward a romantic interest (Eastwick & Finkel, 2008a). In fact, partner specific attachment anxiety appears to be greater in relationships that are not es tablished compared to those that are. engage i n proximity seeking behaviors in order to alleviate their anxiety (Eastwick & Finkel, 2008a, p. 629). Comparing participants who were currently in a romantic relationship with those who were not, it was shown that people answering questions about a desire d romantic partner (instead of a current partner) held higher levels of partner specific attachment anxiety. Higher levels of partner specific attachment anxiety predicted approach related emotions and behaviors, as measured by a questionnaire assessing p roximity seeking, separation distress, safe haven, secure base, approach tendencies, and passionate love. This anxiety may signal that the romantic interest is worthy of pursuit. hat may carry over into new relationships in their formative stages (Fraley & Davis, 1997). A The child uses this individual as a secure base when exploring and a safe haven when in need of comfort, as may be seen in the research conducted by Bowlby and Ainsworth. As a child ages and moves into adulthood, the attachment figure changes from the parents to peers. Using
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 6 related functions questionnaire the re searchers determined whether parents, peers, or romantic partners served as attachment figures. For the college aged sample, peers served as targets for proximity maintenance and a safe haven when upset. The participants still viewed their parents as a s ecure base. The longer a non parent relationship lasted, the degree of transfer of attachment behaviors toward the new attachment figure increased. In short, an individual in a relationship that lasts for an extended period of time is likely to find her/ his partner or friend serving as an attachment figure. This transfer may then lead to attachment anxiety behaviors outlined by Eastwick and Finkel (2008a). This process of attachment formation and transfer appears to be cyclical in nature. chment style in childhood is related to figures from parents to peers but also impinges on the romantic relationships one has later in life. In a long term longitudinal study researchers conducted multiple interviews with par ticipants to assess marital status, marital satisfaction, personality and behavioral characteristics, internal working models of attachment avoidance and anxiety, and home life in childhood. Women who demonstrated an avoidant attachment style in early adu lthood were less likely to be married in their 50s, experienced less relationship satisfaction, and engaged in romantic relationships with a shorter duration than securely attached women (Kholen & Bera, 1998). Although relationship history and satisfactio n cannot be pinned solely to the influence of attachment style, research has shown that home environment, an arena in which parents may exhibit the attachment styles pres ent in their own relationship(s), affects the development of attachment security in later
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 7 romantic relationships (Duemmler & Kobak, 2001). cure base and a safe haven, the researchers found that attachment security with the relationship stability. Att achment style is not associated solely with real, existing, or expected relationships. Attachment style is related to the rate at which individuals make relationship enhancing decisions in an interactive, simulated relationship and their satisfaction with the relationship (Vicary & Fraley, 2007). Using an inventive and interactive methodology, participants interacted with a Choose Your Own Adventure task. The participants acted as the protagonist of the story and were given a series of choices to make throughout the story. Instructed to select t heir choices based on how they would likely act in a real relationship, the participants chose between relationship enhancing or detrimental options. Highly insecure individuals chose relationship enhancing options less frequently at the onset of the inte ractive, simulated relationship than secure individuals. This demonstrates how attachment style not only plays a role in For individuals who are engaged in a relationship, those with secure attachment st yles experience greater relationship interdependence, commitment, satisfaction, and trust than individuals who are insecurely attached (Simpson, 1990). Using a series of self report measures assessing emotion, the researcher also found that a difference i n the experience of positive and negative emotions in a relationship followed suit, with securely attached partners experiencing more positive and less negative emotions than
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 8 insecurely attached partners. Nevertheless, security in an established relations hip takes time to develop. According to a self report stu dy conducted by Duemmler and Kobak (2001), factors such as commitment to the relationship and family of origin affect the level of security in an established relationship between college students. The maintenance of a romantic relationship can be difficult. Relationships require Compromise, an oft cited requirement in a happily functioning relationship, is important; ho wever, attachment s tyle appears to have a relationship (Tolmacz, 2004). In a study of Israeli men, an anxious ambivalent attachment style indicated a lesser likelihood to compromise in a relationship than secur e or avoidant attachment styles. The participants listed traits that they desired in a mate and then identified the minimum necessary presence of that trait in a mate in order for the participant to be willing to form a relationship. When compromise does not work out, conflict may ensue. The dynamic of support seeking and caregiving behaviors between romantic partners also contributes to the maintenance of a relationship (Collins & Feeney, 2000). When discussing a stressful situatio n, partners higher in anxiety are seen as poorer caregivers whereas partners higher in avoidance are more likely to use indirect support When put together, a highly avoidant individual and a highly anxious individual would experience great difficulty navigating through a stressful predicament in their relationship. Which issues may cause enough stress to possibly evolve into a conflict? Issues concerning distance and closene ss are more salient for insecurely attached individuals,
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 9 particularly women, in a long term relationship (Feeney, 1999). When asked to discuss their partner s for a few minutes, participants spent a large portion of time discussing issues of closeness and distance in their romantic relationship, with women typically desiring more closeness. relationship. In a study measuring self reported levels of relationship satisfaction, satisfaction dec reased when one adhere d to relationship specific irrational beliefs, such as bel change or expecting sexual perfection (Stackert & Bursik, 2003). g rounds for conflict. Conflict is not the only negative experience associated with relationships In another study, t he negative social emotion shame wa s predicted by ascribing to a dismis sing or secure attachment style, guilt wa s predicted by dismissing attachment style, and loneliness wa s predicted by all attachment styles (Akbag & Erden Imamoglu, 2010). The study presented participants with three different questionnaires to assess guilt, shame, and loneliness, and measured the ir levels of all three negative emotions All of the attachment styles correlated with shame, with the exception of preoccupied attachment Guilt was negatively correlated with a dismissing attachment style and loneliness was negatively correlated with t he secure attachment style and positively correlated with the insecure attachment styles. This shows that attachment style is associated with both positive and negative feelings in a relationship. S ome relationships simply do not work out and lead to dissolution. Feeney and Noller (1992) note d that when interviewing people after a relationship dissolves, individuals with higher levels of avoidance we re more likely to undergo relationship
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 10 dissolution but experience d the least distress about the break up. Conversely, individual s with high levels of anxiety wer e more likely to report feelings of surprise and upset in response to a break up. Break ups are a difficult experience for most people Transference f rom one relationship to another Are relationships ever truly over? More precisely, do the experiences and memories created in previous relationships disappear once the relationship has been terminated? In a study that utilized information received fr om participants about their most rec ent relationship, Brumbaugh and Fraley (2006) found t hat despite the relative lack of past re lationship history explain ed attachment relat ed feelings and thoughts toward the new target. To put it simply, attachment representations may have be en transferred from one relationship to the next. process by which existing mental representations of significant others resurface to As such, new partners that we r e similar to previous partners we re seen as more appealing and arouse d greater feelings of att raction than new partners that we re dissimilar from past partners. As previously stated, the attachment process is a cyclical, ever evolving series of events. Fral ey and Davis (1997) argu ed that although a developed attachment bond may peer to partner, and partner to partner. As such, past relationships live on through new relationships, whether directly o r indirectly. This is not to say that attachment style cannot change but rather that past attachment dynamics influence new attachment bonds.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 11 Relationship Ideals What are relationship ideals? Relationship ideals are characteristics or traits in a rel ationship that one feels ar e important such as loyalty, good communication, or honesty. Individuals in a relationship may have similar or dissimilar opinions on which ideals are important. Furthermore, an individual may perceive his/her partner as lacki ng in a trait that he/she sees as an ideal. In a longitudinal study following college romantic relationships, individuals who had high levels o f ideal perception consistency we re more likely to perceive the relatio nship quality as higher and had more posi tive perceptions of their partner and the relationship as a whole than individuals with low levels of consistency (Fletcher, Simpson, & Thomas, 2000). According to the researchers, ideal perception consistency may be Ideals that we re believed to be more import ant we relationship more frequently. As time passed, people change d their ideals to match their perceptions of their partner rather than the partner changing to match the ideals. This was established b y having the participants complete the study questionnaire at one month intervals for two more sessions if the relationship had not yet dissolved. This questionnaire included scales assessing partner/relationship ideals, partner and relationship perceptio ns, and a measure of the consistency between ideals and perceptions. Additionally, ideal perception consistency had the ability to predict whether individuals remain ed in a relationship or dissolve d it.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 12 The concept of romantic ideals may be divided into two categories: partner ideals and relationship ideals (Fletcher, Simpson, Thomas, & Giles, 1999). These categories may be further divided into five subgroups: Partner Warmth Trustworthiness, Partner Vitality Attractiveness, Partner Status Resources, Rel ationship Intimacy Loyalty, and Relationship Passion. It is imperative to note that these ideal scales are not mutually exclusive. Someone who views relationship intimacy loyalty as important will likely view partner ideals that may increase intimacy and loyalty in a relationship as important. But what purpose do ideals serve? The Ideals Standards Model serves as a means of explaining which attributes of an individual and a relationship are present and how they function in c lose relationships (Fletcher & Simpson, 2000). According to this model, partner and relationship ideals work to evaluate, examine, and regulate a close relationship. Individuals who idealize their partner tend to experience greater relationship satisfaction and reduce the risk of rel ationship dissolution, as was stated in the aforementioned research by Fletcher et al (2000). Nevertheless, there is a caveat to this attainment of satisfaction; the higher an individual sets her/his ideal standards, the more challenging it is for her/hi s partner to live up to those standards. Ideals may serve Seeking out a partner. When searching for a romantic partner, people generally seek out partners who have a similar level of so cial desirability and attractiv eness (Harrison & Saeed, 1977). In an innovative study using newspaper personal ads, ce rtain gender differences appear ed to be prominent when searching for a partner. Women we re more likely than men to seek partners w ith financial security and who were older, whereas men sought attractiveness
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 13 and younger partners. However, individuals who describe d themselves as attractive, no matter their gender, tend ed to desire attractive partner. On another note individuals who appe ar more similar to oneself are viewed as more pleasurable and arousing compared to dissimilar indiv iduals (Krueger & Caspi, 1992). In this study, the researchers manipulated the degree to which computer generated profiles matched responses made on various questionnaires to determine what degree of similarity was seen as most favorable. Simil arity in temperament wa s related to attraction. Initial feelings of attraction and desire for certain ide als may be studied in an interesting arena: speed dating. East wick and Finkel (2008b) used speed dating as a means of studying how the stated importance of traits such as attractiveness or earning prospects are reflected in the partners to whom the participants were attracted. Speed dating is an event that allows participants to meet a large number of new people in short, timed dates. Participants in the study completed an online questionnaire before attending a speed dating event created by the researchers. After the event the participants completed more questionnaires about the dates they met and their interest in them. Traditional sex preferences for an ideal mate (physical attractiveness for men and earning prospects for women) were reflected in the stated importance one gives to these traits but failed to predict actual mate preference in a real life situation. It appears that individuals do not fully realize which traits, when interacting directly with another person, attract them to the new romantic targets. Relatio nships: Their start up and tune u p.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 14 Keiter, Miles, & Yopyk 2007) influence the types of partners sought out and the use of emotional involvement as a means of initiating a relationship. The initiation strategy of emotional involvement includes disclosing information about oneself and showing oneself as an emoti onal being. Individuals who have strong intimacy goals engage in more emotional involvement and see this initiation strategy as effective. People seem to lack the ability to accurately identify which characteristics and traits they find attractive. In a study of college students, Eastwick, Finkel, and Eagly (2011) attempted to identify if the students were aware of what they found to be attractive in a potential partn er and if these traits related to their feelings of attraction during face to face intera ction. On paper, the students found a potential partner to be quite engaging and attractive but once they met in person, these ideals and characteristics did not moderate attraction. Additionally, the relationship status o f an individual makes a differen ce. For individuals currently in an established relationship, ideals have an effect on relationship functioning when viewed as indicators of relationship patterns. For those individuals who are single and pursuing a potential partner, matching ideals hol d no weight. Matching ideals become important once the relationship has been formed. After a relationship has been established, ideals can cause problems. If an individual perceives her/himself as a good example of particular ideals, (s)he is less likel y to be flexible when evaluating her/his partner (Campbell, Simpson, Kashy, & Fletcher, 2001). Participants in this study rated themselves and their partners on the dimensions of warmth/trustworthiness, vitality/attractiveness, and status/resources, their flexibility of the ideals, and how closely their partner matched their ideal. If the partner closely
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 15 matched als, relationship satisfaction wa s greater. In s um, similar partners experience d more satisfying rel ationships Romantic Attraction and Dating This i s the big question regarding the dating game: who are we attracted to? Think back on those two individuals in the coffee shop; what brought them together? Attraction may have brought those two people together. And where can researchers study attraction without having to wait for the timing to be just right? Speed dating, in addition to allowing individuals to meet others in search of romantic interaction, serves as a prime condition in which to study initial romantic attraction (Finkel, Eastiwck, & Matthews, 2007). Eastwick and Finkel, along with their colleagues, utilize the brevity and diverse population involved in speed dating to gain a be tter understanding of romantic attraction. In a methodological primer article, Finkel and colleagues (2007) discuss the merits and importance of speed dating experiments, in which researchers may study the initiation of romantic attraction. Spe ed dating events are amenable for experimentation and serve as a great base for study. A researcher may manipulate various variables, such as the participant sample or the length of time allowed for interaction, and conduct follow up research to help support their hypotheses. Although issues of external validity and efficacy may be problematic, speed dating studies allow researchers to increase their knowledge of the discrepancies between stated and demonstrated preference in partner traits ( Eastwick & Finkel, 2008 b) and the way in which relationships function at their onset. Although the current study did not make use of a speed dating methodology, much can be learned from the previous studies conducted using this method.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 16 The Current Study Attachment style serves as a key component in the creation and maintenance of relationships between individuals. As demonstrated in the research reviewed above, attachment style is a factor in assess ing to what extent an individual: ( a) forms relationships and transfers previous relationship experiences to new relationship (Fraley & Davis, 1997; Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2006), ( b) experiences satisfaction in the relationship (Simpson, 1999; Vicary & Fraley, 2007), ( c) experiences negative s ocial emotions (i.e., guilt, shame, and loneliness) (Akbag & Erden Imamoglu, 2010), and ( d) responds to relationship dissolution (Feeney & Noller, 1992). Previous research highlights the importance of relationship ideals for individuals seeking out a partn er and those currently in a relationship (Harrison & Saeed, 1977; Eastwick, Finkel, & Eagly, 2011; Fletcher & Simpson, 2000). Relationship ideals may successful relationsh ip, however, the importance of particular relationship ideals differ across modes of interpersonal introduction (Eastwick, Finkel, & Eagly, 2011) in gender stereotypical directions (Eastwick & Finkel, 2008b). Studies utilizing speed dating constructs have attempted to identify which characteristics are important to an individual when determining whether or not to initiate a new relationship (Finkel, Eastwi ck, & Matthews, 2007). To date, there is little empirical research concerning the importance of relat ionship ideals upon initial interaction outside of the realm of speed dating. Although speed dating serves as a useful tool for studying initial attraction, it is not an accurate reflection of a typical dating experience or an initial interaction between two people. As a result, this study aimed to identify the importance placed on particular romantic
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 17 relationship ideals and attachment style when evaluating the attractiveness of a potential dating partner without live interaction. One research question an d two hypotheses were p roposed for this study. D oes the attachment style portrayed by the personal profiles correlate with the attraction ratings for those profiles? It was hypothesized that greater attraction ratings would be awarded to the profile that portrayed a secure attachment style. Additionally, it was predicted that the relationship ideals reported for the most attractive partner would be similar to those identified as important to the participant. Method Participants Participants were 188 undergraduate students from a small liberal arts college in southwest Florida. The participants were recruited through a student listserv at the college. One hundred and forty three participants completed the survey in its entirety and, as such, the foll owing analyses use only the data obtained from these participants. The sample contained 101 women (70.6%), 35 men (24.5%), 2 participants (1.4%) who identified as transgender or queer, and 5 who declined to answer (3.5%). The median age of participants w as 21 years and the median year of school was 3 (junior). The current relationship status of the participants may be described as follows: single, open to a relationship, 42 (29.4%); single, not looking for a relationship, 17 (11.9%); in an open relations hip, 13 (9.1%); in a c ommitted relationship, 67 (46.9 %); no answer, 4 (2.8%). The median number of previous romantic relationships was 3 and the median length of
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 18 Materials All of the materials used in the study may be found in the Appendix. The survey consisted of previously used questionnaires in addition to materials created by the researcher. Attachment style The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale Short Form, ECR S, (Wei, Russell, Mallinckrodt, & Vogel, 2007) determined the attachment style of the participants according to the four category model of adult attachment created by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) as previously described. The scale consisted o f 12 relationships using responses to statements on a Likert scale from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 7 ( strongly agree ). .743) and avoidance (0.782), both of which produced adequate reliability coefficients. Romantic relationship ideals Using a list of characteristics obtained in a study by Fletcher, Simpson, and Thomas (1999), thirty romantic relationship ideals were rated on a scale from 1 ( very unimportant ) to 7 ( very important ) concerning the importance of their presence in an ideal romantic relationship. Partner profiles The researcher created four separate partner profiles, described as profiles written by individuals who were members of a dating website, and presented them to the participants. Each profile represented one of four attachment styles: secure, preoccupied, dismissive, or fearful. The profiles utilized in the study were chosen from a pool of e ight profiles created by the researcher and independently rated by 20 different raters recruited from a Social Psychology laboratory class. The profiles were measured using a 7 point Likert scale to determine which of the two examples provided the most
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 19 ac curate representation of the attachment style. The examples with the highest averages were chosen. Attraction. Attraction toward the potential partners was rated using two described ? you be willing to go on a date with one of these dating partners ? from 1 ( not attracted / not at all willing ) to 7 ( very attracted / very willing ). Participants then indicated which romantic relationship ideals they felt the most attractive potential partner would see as important in a relationship partner. The same ideals presented earlier were utilized for the relationship ideals. A question addressing the perceived honesty of the potential partners when crea ting their pr ofiles was propos ed to the Demographic information concerning age, year in school, gender, current relationship status, number of previo us romantic relationships, and length of the most significant (self defined) previous relationship was obtained. Procedure Participants who chose to participate in the survey were instructed to click a link in the recruitment email that directed them to th e survey. The survey was created and presented using the SurveyMonkey website. The questionnaires were presented to participants in the following order: ECR S, romantic relationship ideals, potential partner profiles, attraction, partner romantic relationship ideals, profile honesty, and demographics.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 20 Upon completion of the experiment, the participants were thanked and automatically logged out of the survey. Results Table 1. As can be seen in the table, the mean attraction rating was highest for the secure profile ( M = 5.56) and lowest for the fearful profile ( M = 2.51), a difference of over three points. The mean for willingness to date was, again, highest for the secure profile ( M = 5.62) and lowest for the fearful profile ( M = 2.88). The ratings for perceived honesty of the profiles did not follow this trend; the highest mean was for the preoccupied profile ( M = 5.61) and the lowest for the dismissive profile ( M = 4.68). The means for attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were 24.2 and 16.3, respectively, similar to the means found by Wei et al. (2007). In accordance with previous research (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) men had significantly greater level s of avoidance ( M = 18.23) than women ( M = 15.74) t (131) = 2.257, p = .026. Attachment Style and Perception of Profiles An analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures was conducted to identify the effect of profile type on the attraction variable, the result of which was significant, F (1, 137) = 69.061, p < .0001. This procedure was repeated for the variables will ingness to date and honesty, both of which were significant [respectively, F (1, 137) = 44.272, p < .0001; F (1, 133) = 16.278, p < .0001]. This indicates that the effect of attachment style portrayed in the profiles was significan t, which answered the pr oposed research question
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 21 A Pearson product moment correlation coefficient was computed for the attraction, willingness to date, and honesty variables to assess the relationship between the dating profiles and attachment anxiety/avoidance. These scores may be seen in Table 2. When assessing attraction, people higher in anxiety were significantly more attracted to the preoccupied profile [ r (136) = .365, p < .0001] and the fearful profile [ r (135) = .227, p = .008]. People higher in avoidan ce were significantly more attracted to the dismissive profile [ r (135) =.336, p < .0001]. Participants higher in anxiety were significantly less attracted to the dismissive profile [ r (135) = .209, p = .015]. Correlations involving the willingness to date variable were also significant. People higher in anxiety were more willing to date the preoccupied profile [ r (136) = .293, p = .001] but less willing to date the dismissive profile [ r (135) = .22 8, p = .008]. Participants higher in avoidance were more willing to date the dismissive profile [ r (135) = .315, p < .0001]. The profiles and attachment anxiety/avoidance were not significantly correlated across honesty. Romantic Relationship Ideals The scores for the romantic relationship ideals were transformed in order to assess The relationshi p ideals rated Ideals rated at 3 or lower were placed in the low level, whereas ideals rated at 5 or higher were placed in the high level. Ideals rated as 4 were omitted because they were at the scale midpoint The ideals rated on behalf of the most attractive partner were divided
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 22 according to whether the participant indicated the ideal as important by checking a box (1), or unimportant by leaving the box blank (0). A chi square test was calculated for the romantic relationship ideals. Only matching ideals were analyzed ( i.e. : par ticipant fun vs. partner fun ). Monogamous was the only ideal that reached significance, 2 (1, 122) = 8.444, p = .004. In other words, the participants who valued monogamy more perceived that their most attractive partner valued monogamy as well Out of the thirty comparisons made, only one ideal was significant. As such, little can be interpreted from these results. Relationship History A Pearson product moment correlation coefficient was calculated for the relationship history variables to assess their association with attachment anxiety/avoidance. Avoidance was negatively correlated with the length of the most significant previous relationship [ r (134) = .187, p = .030]. Anxiety was negat ively correlated with the length of the most significant previous relationship [ r (134) = .178, p = .039]. The number of previous romantic relationships was positively correlated with the length of the most significant previous relationship [ r (133) = .190, p = .028]. Discussion Perception of Profiles Attach ment style had a significant effect on the perception of the profiles. According to the results of the ANOVAs for attraction, willingness to date, and honesty, the attachment style of the profiles accounted for the difference in rating for these three var iables. To put it simply, the attachm ent style of the profiles influenc ed the ratings of attraction, willingness to date, and honesty for those profiles.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 23 Attraction. Several correlation coefficients reached significance concerning the perception of the pa rtner profiles, as well. For the attraction variable, participants with higher levels of attachment anxiety rated the preoccupied and fearful profiles more favorably but the dismissive profile less favorably. The preoccupied and fearful attachment styles are defined as having higher levels of attachment anxiety. For the participants with high levels of anxiety, these profiles may have struck a chord with them. They may have felt more attracted to partners wit h higher levels of anxiety because they could relate to that anxiety or felt that their partner would seek them out more frequently to resolve those feelings of anxiety. Similarly, the dismissive attachment style is characterized by low levels of anxiety. Presumably, participants with high levels of anxiety did not feel These partners do not feel the need to be close to others and are not particularly emotionally expres sive (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Participants with higher levels of attachment avoidance rated the dismissive profile more favorably. Similar to the anxious participants attraction toward the highly anxious profiles, the avoidant participants were a ttracted to one of the avoidant attachment profiles. It is important to note that participants with high levels of avoidance did not find the fearful profile to be attractive, likely because the fearful profile also exhibits high levels of anxiety. Relat ionships between highly avoidant and highly anxious individuals may not work well, as was outlined in the research conducted by Collins and Feeney (2000) concerning caregiving and support seeking behavior.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 24 Willingness to date. Correlations for the willi ngness to date variable were similar to those found for attraction. Participants with high levels of attachment anxiety were more willing to date the preoccupied partner but less willing to date the dismissive partner. Participants with high levels of at tachment avoidance were more willing to date the dismissive partner. Although these results differ slightly from those obtained for the attraction variable, they follow a similar pattern. The highly anxious participants were more willing to date preoccupied partners and less willing to date dismissive partners, likely for the same reasons stated above. Fearful partners, although attractive to anxious participants, may not be seen as good dating partners. Their high levels of avoidance may not make for enjoyable dating partners. Relationship History The variables pertaining to relationship history correlated with attachment anxiety and avoidance. Participants with low er levels of attachm ent anxiety and avoidance were involved in their most significant previous relationship for a longer period of time. Additionally, participants whose most significant previous relationship had last ed longer also had a greater number of previous relationsh ips. The high levels of attachment anxiety in the participants ma y have led to them having shorter significant previo us relationships because of their need to be close to partners and feel loved Previous research has shown that anxious individuals claim they fall in love quickly and report feeling in love at the time of relationship dissolution (Feeney & Noller, 1992). Additionally, participants who had been in relationships for a longer period o f time may have experienced higher levels of commitment to their
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 25 partners (Duemmler & Kobak, 2001). Although this assumption is completely speculative, this may explain why the relationships had lasted as long as they had ( Mdn = 15 months). This is relat ively long period of time for a sample of people with a median age of 21 years. Another interesting correlation was that between relationship length and number of previous relationships. Participants who had been involved in more romantic relationships had a longer lasting significant previous relationship. This seems almost counterintuitive. If a person stays in a relationship for a longer period of time, that makes him/her less available to other partners. It may be that the participants who had mor e partner, thus increasing the length of their relationships. Romantic Relationship Ideals It was hypothesized that the values seen as important to the participants would also be perceived as important by the profile seen as most attractive to the participants. This hypothesis was not supported. Only the monogamous ideal reached significance, showing that the participants who viewed monogamy as important perceived the most attractive partner also viewing monogamy as important. For many traditional relationships, monogamy is highly valued, particularly for women (Schmookler & Bursik, 2007). For men, monogamy is seen as a sacrifice. study, men and women rated various types and beliefs of monogam y across gender and gender roles It may be that the participants who valued monogamy perceived their partner as valuing mono gamy in part because of the association monogamy has with relationship satisfaction.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 26 who value emotional and sexual monogamy experienced greater relationship satisfaction. For the current st udy, the participants may have perceived the attractive partner as valuing monogamy as a means of ensuring their own relationship satisfaction. This is not to say that monogamy is a necessary component of satisfying romantic relationships. General Discuss ion Why should the concepts of attachment style and romantic relationship ideals continue to be studied? The social experience of dating is not going to disappear in the near future. The concepts of attachment style and romantic relationship ideals constitute an important part of dating behavior. According to the current study, attachment style is related to various measures of attraction. It is important to note that the attraction variables were not correlated with attachment anxiety and avoidance in the same way. The attraction measure and the willingness to date measure did not produce the same results. Specifically, participants with high levels of anxiety were not willing to d ate the fearful partner but found this partner to be attractive. This signals that the characteristics that make one an attractive partner do not necessarily make one an appealing date. Helping individuals recognize these qualities in themselves may faci litate their dating behaviors. T romantic relationships. Attachment style may vary from relationship to relationship, Attachment style behaviors in al l relationships. Participants who identified as highly anxious in romantic relationships may exhibit low levels of attachment anxiety in other relationships. This,
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 27 too, may have implications in aiding people who are navigating the dating game. The stud y of romantic relationship ideals merits a great deal of research. When considering the previous research concerning relationship ideals, the results are inconclusive at best. It appears that people are not fully aware of what they desire in romantic rel ationship s and romantic partners. According to the results obtained in the current study, people did not perceive attractive romantic partners to find equal value in relationship ideals seen as important to the individuals. This may have been affected by the way in which the potential partners were presented. In everyday life, it is unlikely that individuals will so blatantly demonstrate their levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance during a first encounter with someone. The unknown qualities of a ne w potential partner may allow one to idealize the partner, an option that may not have been possible in the current study. Limitations and Future Research This study was not without its limitations. The presentation of the attachment style and romantic r elationship ideals measures, as well as the partner profiles, was not counterbalanced. Although it is unlikely that the responses in this study were subject to exhaustion due to the short length of the measures, it is important to take precautions to elim inate confounding variables. Furthermore, the partner profiles have not been used and validated in previous studies. These partner profiles should be studied further in order to assess whether they are accurate representations of the attachment styles they are meant to portray. The sample of the study consisted solely of undergraduate students from a small liberal arts college in Southwest Florida. The majority of the participants were in their
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 28 early 20s and female. A more diverse sample with an even gender split should be utilized in future studies. Additionally, other demographic variables should be included, such as sexual orientation. Future research should incorporate the use of face to face interaction between partic This should entail a study similar to the current study but with an additional interaction with the potential partners. This type of study would be used in attempts to replicate the findings of E astwick et al. (2011). The question of whether or not people are aware of what they find attractive on paper and in person merits further exploration. Conclusion The current study aimed to identify the relationship between attachment style, romantic relationship ideals, and attraction when assessing unknown potential dating partners. Several significant correlations were found among these variables. Most notably, rat ings of attraction differed across the attachment styles depending on the Highly anxious participants found the preoccupied and fearful partners to be more attractive whereas highly avoidant partic ipants only viewed the d ismissive partner as attractive. Future research should try to identify causal relationships between these variables and possibly identify directionality. This research may assist people when active in the dating community.
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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 34 Table 1 Descriptive Statistics: Mean (Standard Deviation) Attachment Style of Profile Variable Grand mean Secure Preoccupied Dismissive Fearful Anxiety 24.2 (6.22) Avoidance 16.3 (5.66) Attraction 5.56 (1.42) 3.41 (1.94) 2.88 (1.58) 2.51 (1.66) Willingness to date 5.62 (1.62) 3.71 (2.09) 3.24 (1.87) 2.88 (1.90) Honesty 5.24 (1.30) 5.61 (1.30) 4.68 (1.70) 5.04 (1.68)
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 35 Table 2 Intercorrelations B etween Partner Profiles and Anxiety/Avoidance Attraction Willingness to Date Honesty Measure Anxiety Avoidance Anxiety Avoidance Anxiety Avoidance Secure .108 .002 .054 .084 .006 .097 Preoccupied .365 *** .152 .293 *** .060 .060 .152 Dismissive .209 .336 *** .228 ** .315 *** .037 .113 Fearful .227 ** .106 .135 .105 .065 .061 Note. p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 36 Appendix ECR S The following statements concern how you feel in romantic relationships. We are interested in how you generally experience relationships, not just in what is happening in a current relationship. Respond to each statement by indicating how much you agree or disagree with it. 1. It helps to turn to my romantic partner in times of need. 2. I need a lot of reassurance that I am loved by my partner. 3. I want to get close to my partner, but I keep pulling back. 4. would like. 5. I turn to my partner for many things, including comfort and reassurance. 6. My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away. 7. I try to avoid getting too close to my partner. 8. I do not often worry about being abandoned. 9. I usually discuss my problems and concerns with my partner. 10. I get frustrated if romantic partner are not available when I need them. 11. I am nervous when partners get too close to me. s I care about them. Romantic Relationship Ideals Please rate each of the following romantic relationship ideals in terms of the importance that each item has in describing your ideal romantic relationship (dating, living together,
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 37 married, etc.) by marki ng the appropriate number. Honest Stability Humorous Commitment Monogamous Fun Caring In love Independence Trusting Affectionate Passionate Support Equality Intellectual equality Respect Sharing Relaxed Understanding Acceptance Similar personalities Friendship Compromise Romantic Good communication Exciting Confronts conflict Loyalty Challenging Similar interests Potential Partner Profiles The following profiles were written by individuals who are members of a dating website. Please read each of the profiles carefully. Secure Relationships are meant to be fun. discovering new things together. I enjoy being in a relationship.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 38 meant to find someone one day and I hope to share the things I like with someone I like. wants to share the good times (and t interested! Preoccupied I am looking for a long term relationship, someone I can share my life with and settle down. Having a partner is super important to me. your other half. I am open, honest, and committed. People tell me that I want too much, yet. My past relationships never really worked because my partner never wanted to get as close as I knew we could be. Dismissive a while then DL, something super low key, I might be right for you.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 39 Fearful Oh jeez, I hate this part. I would like to be in a rel ationship but I find it hard to open up to people. afraid that history will repeat itself. Relationships can be really intimidating sometimes, change. Hopefully?