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Attachment Styles

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Attachment Through Life
Adult attachment styles

Early attachment styles can play a role in adult romantic attachment styles.

Image: Joe Zlomek

Before you start blaming relationship problems on your parents, it is important to note that attachment styles formed in infancy are not necessarily identical to those demonstrated in adult romantic-attachment. A great deal of time has elapsed between infancy and adulthood, so intervening experiences also play a large role in adult attachment styles. Those described as ambivalent or avoidant in infancy can become securely attached as adults, while those with a secure attachment in childhood can show insecure attachment styles in adulthood. Basic temperament is also thought to play a partial role in attachment.

In one study, Hazen and Shaver found that parental divorce seemed unrelated to attachment style. Instead, their research indicated that the best predictor of adult attachment style was the perceptions that people have about the quality of their relationships with their parents as well as their parent's relationship with each other.

But research in this area does indicate that patterns established in childhood have an important impact on later relationships. Researchers Hazen and Shaver also found a varied beliefs about relationships amongst adults with differing attachment styles. Securely attached adults tend to believe that romantic love is enduring. Ambivalently attached adults report falling in love often, while those with avoidant attachment styles describe love as rare and temporary.

While we cannot say that infant attachment styles are identical to adult romantic-attachment styles, research has shown that early attachment styles can help predict patterns of behavior in adulthood.

Next: Secure Attachment

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