The psychophysiology of adult attachment relationships: Autonomic reactivity in marital and premarital interactions

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90 Scopus citations

Abstract

To better understand the origins of autonomic reactivity during marital interactions, this study examined the psychophysiological profiles of prototypically secure (vs. insecure) and deactivating (vs. hyperactivating) adults while they talked about areas of disagreement with their (pre)marital partners. Adults who idealized their caregivers and/or normalized harsh childhood experiences during the Adult Attachment Interview (i.e., deactivating adults) manifested heightened electrodermal reactivity, a sign of emotional inhibition, while attempting to resolve conflict in their relationships, whereas individuals who became angrily or passively caught up while discussing their early lives (i.e., hyperactivating adults) later showed increases in heart rate while conversing with their partners, suggesting behavioral activation. In contrast, security was associated with low levels of electrodermal change from baseline in the context of this normatively mild marital stressor. Results were generally consistent for 40 younger engaged and 40 mature married couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adult Attachment Interview
  • Attachment security
  • Disagreement
  • Engaged couples
  • Heart rate
  • Married couples
  • Physiology

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