Working Models of Attachment and Reactions to Different Forms of Caregiving From Romantic Partners

Jeff Simpson, Heike A. Winterheld, W. Steven Rholes, M. Minda Oriña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Inspired by attachment theory, the authors tested a series of theoretically derived predictions about connections between attachment working models (attachment to one's parents assessed by the Adult Attachment Interview; M. Main & R. Goldwyn, 1994) and the effectiveness of specific types of caregiving spontaneously displayed by dating partners during a stressful conflict-resolution discussion. Each partner first completed the Adult Attachment Interview. One week later, each couple was videotaped while they tried to resolve a current problem in their relationship. Trained observers then rated each interaction for the degree to which (a) emotional, instrumental, and physical caregiving behaviors were displayed; (b) care recipients appeared calmed by their partners' caregiving attempts; and (c) each partner appeared distressed during the discussion. Individuals who had more secure representations of their parents were rated as being more calmed if/when their partners provided greater emotional care, especially if they were rated as more distressed. Conversely, individuals who had more insecure (dismissive) representations of their parents reacted more favorably to instrumental caregiving behaviors from their partners, especially if they were more distressed. The broader theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-477
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • attachment
  • caregiving
  • conflict
  • support


Dive into the research topics of 'Working Models of Attachment and Reactions to Different Forms of Caregiving From Romantic Partners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this