The role of adult attachment security in non-romantic, non-attachment-related first interactions between same-sex strangers

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Research using the Adult Attachment Interview has largely examined its predictive significance for interpersonal behavior within the context of observations of parent-child and romantic relationships. A limitation of this state of affairs is that the literature does not make clear whether or when attachment-related variation becomes reflected in other kinds of interpersonal encounters. This study demonstrates that links between adults' states of mind regarding childhood attachment experiences and the quality of their interpersonal interactions are evident in first meetings between same-sex strangers in a non-attachment-related context. More specifically, in a study of 50 stranger dyads (50% female), secure adults demonstrated positive emotional engagement during a challenging puzzle-building task. In contrast, preoccupied adults dominated the task, whereas dismissing adults evidenced negative emotion during the interaction. Results held controlling for the Big Five personality dimensions and suggest a middle ground position regarding the narrow versus broad correlates of adult attachment security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-352
Number of pages12
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the Research Board at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The author is grateful for this financial support as well as for the efforts of the many interviewers and data entry personnel involved with this work. In particular, the author wishes to acknowledge Eric Clausell, Keren Fortuna, and Ashley Holland, who coded the AAI transcripts for this study, as well as Mary Jo Bajt and Katy Wampler, who coded the stranger interactions.


  • Adult attachment interview
  • Attachment security
  • First interactions
  • Observational
  • Strangers


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