Conflict in Close Relationships: An Attachment Perspective

Jeffry A. Simpson, W. Steven Rholes, Dede Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

670 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-914
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996


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