Caterina Balenzano

The transfer of attachment functions outside the family: the role of romantic attachment

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Romantic attachment, close relationships, transfer of attachment functions

According to the hypothesis that partners of close lasting relationships adopt a preeminent role in the hierarchy of adult attachments, this study is aimed to analyze the transfer of attachment functions outside the family. The research involved 66 pairs of lovers (of which 33 are about to get married) living in the city of Bari (average age: 26.4 years, SD = 4.83). The transfer of attachment functions has been assessed by multi-item measure developed by Hazan e Hutt (1991); the quality of romantic attachment by "Experiences in Close Relationships - Revised" scale (Fraley, Waller and Brennan, 2000). The results, in line with the literature (Weiss, 1982; Ainsworth, 1989; Hazan and Hutt, 1991; Hazan and Zeifman, 1999), show a pattern of gradual transfer of attachment functions and an important role of partner as source of emotional security. Log-linear analyses used to evaluate the associations between the length of romantic relationship, the gender of partners, the transfer of attachment functions and the assumption of a clear couple commitment, such as the choice of getting married, revealed the main effects of length of relationship and transfer of attachment functions on the partner. Moreover, ANOVA's tests highlight the transfer of all attachment functions on the partner as the unique factor associated to a more secure romantic attachment, characterized by lower levels of attachment-related "anxiety" and avoidance of intimacy. This finding might suggest that individuals transfer attachment functions on their partners only when relationship represent a real secure base. On the contrary, if relationship is characterized by high levels of anxiety and avoidance of intimacy, partners remain anchored to their primary caregivers. Longitudinal studies may clarify the role of specific aspects of romantic relationship that influence the transfer of attachment functions and the quality of romantic attachment.

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