Patterns of Stability in Adult Attachment: An Empirical Test of Two Models of Continuity and Change


The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology is published by the American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/.


One of the core assumptions of attachment theory is that attachment representations are stable over time. Unfortunately, the data on attachment stability have been ambiguous, and as a result, alternative theoretical perspectives have evolved to explain them. The objective of the present research was to evaluate alternative models of stability by studying adults in 2 intensive longitudinal investigations. Specifically, we assessed attachment representations in 1 sample (N=203) daily over a 30-day period and in the other sample (N=388) weekly over a year. Analyses show that the patterns of stability that exist in adult attachment are most consistent with a prototype model—a model assuming that there is a stable factor underlying temporary variations in attachment. Moreover, although the Big Five personality traits exhibited a pattern of stability that was similar to that of attachment, they did not account for the stability observed in attachment.


Psychology | Social Psychology