Bartholomew & Horowitz (1991)

Dr. Kim BartholomewThe following is an excerpt from Smith (2008):

Building on studies of infant (e.g., Ainsworth et al., 1978; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985) and adult (e.g., Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Main et al., 1985) attachment, Bartholomew [pictured left] and Horowitz (1991) developed a comprehensive, four-category model of adult attachment (which may also be inferred by similar classifications of infant attachment). Succinctly characterized by positive or negative views of self and others, each of the four attachment styles (or internal working models) is associated with a distinct profile of intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics.

Securely attached individuals have an internal working model with positive views of both self and others and are comfortable with either intimacy or autonomy (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). These persons, like securely attached infants, believe that someone will be available to them if needed and believe that they are deserving of others’ help. Once an individual has developed the capacity for secure attachments, he or she will likely continue the pattern throughout the remainder of the life span. This development may occur during infancy with the primary caretaker, but also may occur later in life through another significant relationship.

Each of the insecure (preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing) attachment styles, however, has its own distinctive set of interpersonal problems. The preoccupied attachment style is characterized by an internal working model with a negative view of self and a positive view of others. These individuals feel anxious in their relationships, demonstrate a high level of dependence on others, and invest a significant amount of energy in relationships that are not necessarily in their best interest to maintain (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). The preoccupied attachment style is equivalent to Hazan and Shaver’s (1987) anxious/ambivalent category of attachment.

The fearful and dismissing attachment styles were undifferentiated in earlier research by Hazan and Shaver (1987), who referred to both styles as avoidant. However, Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) identified distinct differences between the two categories. The fearful attachment style is characterized by an internal working model with negative views of both self and others. Observation suggests that these persons are socially avoidant because they are fearful of their own vulnerability in intimacy. They anticipate that others will be hurtful and believe that they do not deserve to be treated well due to perceived personal shortcomings.

Although the dismissing attachment style is also characterized by social avoidance, its intrapersonal dynamics are quite different from those of the fearful attachment style. Persons with a dismissing attachment style have an internal working model with a positive view of self and a negative view of others. They place little, if any, value in intimacy and are consequently counter-dependent in their relationships, choosing independence and autonomy over relational interdependence (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).

About occhristiancounseling

Dr. Smith is passionate about helping Christian couples and single adults figure out better ways to apply biblical principles and the findings of scientific research to their everyday lives. She holds a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree, with a Minor in Applied Theology, from Biola University.
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26 Responses to Bartholomew & Horowitz (1991)

  1. Nikki says:

    I thought the findings are interesting, especially when applied to the world of men. My immediate reaction to those studies is looking at my own style or my friend’s style. However, the meaning take on a new life when applied to men. I feel as though few men truly have secure attachments, despite that many of them have been brought up in loving homes. I think that even though a good pattern may develop early on, it is easier to go from a secure attachment to an insecure attachment easily then it is to go the other way around. The mixed messages about how men are “supposed” to relate to each other really affects attachment.

  2. JenniferA says:

    This new reseach is very interesting. I agree with the way Bartholomew and Horowitz differentiated the avoidant attachment style into the two separate attachment styles, fearing and dismissing. I have been in relationships with people who were socially avoidant. The reasons for their avoidant behavior seemed to me to be due to either a negative view of self and others or a positive view of self and negative view of others. After reading the results of this study, it makes me wonder whether these attachment styles are neccessarily constant in all settings. I feel that people have the ability to attach differently, depending on the relationship. For example, if a girl is abused by her father, she may be more inclined to be socially avoidant in romantic relationships with men. However, she may not maintain this avoidant attachment style when relating to women or men on a friendhip level. Also, I think that many people can have a negative self image in one relationship, while having a more positive self-image in another relationship. This alterable self-image could be due to the characteristics of the other person they are relating to. For example, if a person is in a relationship with a criminal, the view they hold of themselves while relating to that person may be more positive. However, if they are in a relationship with someone in a highly honored profession, such as a doctor or a pastor, they may view themselves in a more negative light while relating to that person. All in all, I do think that most people favor one attachment style more than others. I like studying attachment styles because it gives me insight into the reasons why I attach to people the way that I do. Exposing these reasons can open the door to begin working towards healthier ways of attaching.

  3. Daniel says:

    The idea that I found the most interesting was the idea that is stated where it is suggested that “in relationships of dominance, two sides of the relationship may be learned: A person who is typically dominated learns both to submit and to dominate.” Later on the article states that these individuals are capable of taking on either role depending of the role that the “social partner” takes on. I wonder if we can use this information, take it one step further, and apply it to the psychology of men. However, if we look at men as experiencing some sort of role change based on societal views instead of another “social partner.” What if men are constantly having to change their roles based on social partners and society as a whole? We might be able to see why men are always placed in a box when each individual has something unique that only gets exposed in the right situations, or with the right person. The attachment styles are different because we are asked to take the other role when “social partners,” or society asks us to put on a different mask to fit in.

  4. Kimberly says:

    I thought the Bartholomew and Horowitz article was very interesting. There was a lot to read, but I enjoyed the study that concluded with attachment styles have to do with representations of childhood experiences. I agree with this study. I try and look at my childhood experiences and my friends experiences and compare our attachment styles. My brothers were always told to be “Men” and not to be too in touch with how they feel. They were less attached to my parents than I was. They grew up and their experiences in childhood represented in their relationship with their friends, girlfriends and family. I was always protected as a child. My parents did not want me to get hurt by the outside world therefore I am more likely to trust people right away because I was never taught to underestimate people. I was never given that chance. There was a lot to comprehend in this article, but it was very informative.

  5. McKenna says:

    I particularly liked this article about adult attachment styles. Although the article and Dr. Smith’s review focused on the mother-son relationship, it was evident that family dynamics have a significant role as well. The text highlighted the question that I kept thinking: “Given the multiple pathways through which representations of attachment relations may perpetuate self-confirming social experiences, perhaps the more difficult question is how such representations come to be modified. Epstein (1980) argues that compelling emotional experiences that are inconsistent with existing models are required to change them?” Since it is apparent that attachment styles from infancy are usually maintained throughout the lifespan, what methods can be taken to move to a possibly more secure attachment? Is it possible to alter an attachment style without a major life change?

    I also found it very interesting how the upper and lower quadrants were compared. The fearful and dismissive styles particularly caught my interest. Although both avoidant quadrants incorporate similar qualities, the separation of personal inadequacies and reservations of others is very different. I think it was crucial that Bartholomew & Horowitz differentiated the attachment styles

  6. Steven says:

    I tried to fit myself into one of the categories, but without taking the actual measures I seemed to be a hodgepodge of conflicting characteristics. Taking from what Dan talked about, while it may be convenient to invent these categories for numbers on paper, our patterns of interaction do vary depending on our “social partners.” I may be too prone to humanism, but the most valuable insight into helping a person comes from examining their models of interaction. If that involves attachment styles and their parental interactions, so be it, but it would do me little good to know I am dismissive, avoidant, or fearful without the context to illucidate it.

    I found it particularly interesting that men scored higher on the dismissive scales. Though it may not be a function of manhood, I had to learn to be a “good” listener. Because even though I had always listened well (understood the person’s points and empathized with their feelings) it had never naturally occurred to me that some people needed “feedback” in the middle of their input. To me this seemed counterintuitive, antithetical, and illogical, why would I interject with anything while they’re still talking? It took me a while to catch on, mostly people accusing me of not listening, but now I try to engage in this behavior as a listener. I still forget sometimes, but trust me, the silence is not a lack of concern. Anyway, all that was just to say maybe some styles of typically male communication may seem “dismissive” when that is not the intent.

  7. Melissa says:

    Taking a look at attachments I think that many men are brought up in a family where they are securley attached. They seek love from their parents and the mother is always nurturing them. This puts security into their life. They are brought up with a sense of self esteem. As years go by though when they get older, I definietyl think that peer pressure sinks in and despite the fact that they were brought up in a secure attachment, they can start to feel a sense of insecurity. Society puts on a certain mask for each man to wear and due to this mask the pressures and insecurities arise in each individual. I definietly agree with Nikki, that its easier to go from secure attachments to insecure attachments rather than the other way around.

  8. Brent says:

    After reading this article, I think about how useful it would be to observe the way that people talk about their relationships that they have formed with others. When they talk about their relationships it might reflect the type of attachment styles that they display. For example, if they talk about relationships in a very trusting manner and portray themselves as a very open and honest person in their relationships then it might be safe to assume that they had a secure attachment to their parents as they were growing up. However, if they have display mistrust towards others and even resent themselves then it is likely that they experienced a negative attachment to their parents.
    During the time that I read this article I began to recognize that the dismissive attachment style that was so dominant in the research findings for guys comes close to the stereotypical guy in our culture and the preoccupied attachment style can be seen as the stereotypical girl in our culture. Usually when discussion occurs around why guys act so emotionless and why girls are so expressive it centers around what culture expects from us. As I was reading this article I wondered, how much does society dictate a man’s development and how much does his family contribute to his development?

  9. Natalie says:

    The attachment models that are proposed by Bartholomew are very interesting to me. Like most people probably did, I tried to fit myself into one of the four quadrants of Secure, Dismissing, Preoccupied, and Fearful. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not possible. I do think that every individual is inclined towards one attachment model over the other, but I think it is a difficult process to assign a particular model to each individual. I am particularly interested in how the attachment styles in the family contribute to attachment styles in the social peer network. Can an individual experience and display characteristics of a secure model within the family, and then simultaneously experience a fearful model within the social realm. Can these models coexist?
    I think that men may experience different attachment styles depending on current variables. As a women I feel like we are more inclined to be true to, or at least keep within the lines of one of the attachment models. When thinking about men, I think that their attachment model changes depending on current situations (self model) and particular persons involved (other model).
    One aspect of the article that I am not completely convinced of is that for the most part our attachment style is formed in childhood and carried with us our entire lives. I feel that each encounter that I have with another human being, affects the way I perceive myself and others. My attachment model seems to be capable of morphing between the four quadrants depending on my current state of mind. Once again I do think that we are inclined to a certain model, but that is not to say that one single person or experience could change our perception of the world and of ourselves.

  10. Matt says:

    I looked over the “What is your attachment style” tab on this blog and when I was through, it showed a nice graph of the different styles and where they were located on the scale. What I thought was interesting on this was the amount of traits that our society labels as “independence” adversely affects one’s attachment style into the dismissive or fearful quadrant. In application to the psychology of men, I feel like it is pretty interesting that most men are found to be in these areas because of societal pushes to be independent and learning to handle crisis on your own as opposed to asking for support.

    Another thing I found interesting was the idea that attachment styles are transferable to other people. It said in the article that secure attachment styles can be passed down from parents or from a significant other, I’d be interested to find out if the same is true for other styles as well. This would seem to support the idea that men are thus raised into how they deal with relationships because of the relationships that they see as a child, which seems to just continue the societal cycle of men being perceived as dismissive individuals.

  11. Jaclyn says:

    Something that Steven touched on that also really stuck out to me when reading this article was that women had much higher ratings in the preoccupied area while men scored much higher in dismissing. This means that women had negative view of themselves and a positive view of others, whereas in men it was opposite; men who are dismissing have a positive view of themselves and a negative view of others. Maybe I just missed it, but I don’t think that the article talked much about why this was the case and I am really interested to find out.

    I have noticed a similar trend in my friendships and other relationships over the years. The men in my life seem to have higher self esteem than the women in my life do–I envy the fact that it seems easier for guys to at least put out a more confident, positive self-concept. For this reason, it makes sense to me that more men than women would fit into the dismissive category, and that more women than men would fit into the preoccupied category. I hope that this is something that we get to talk about in class because male self-confidence, or at least my perception of it, has always been something that fascinates me.

  12. Katie says:

    As I read this article, I started thinking of friends who had different attachment styles. One of my friends is never single, but never with someone she should be. She is always thinking about the relationship she’s currently in, or the one she’ll find herself in tomorrow, or the one she was in last year. I could also see how her low self-esteem and high esteem of others feeds into this. I’ve always been interested in attachment styles, but had always thought of attachment in terms of children or women, not men. Men aren’t as reflective as women, so oftentimes their attachment style can be as plain as day, but everyone’s so caught up with the ramblings, complaints, and issues of the woman’s idea of the relationship that no one really notices that the problem lies in the man’s attachment style. Which I suppose is another problem-society points to the man as the instigator in relationship issues, whereas he could be completely secure in his attachment style and no one would know.

  13. Brandon says:

    While I agree with B & H on the basis of their research, it is hard to apply it across all situations. As some of you have said, most of us show symptoms of all attachment styles in different situations. We are creatures of habit; we feed off of our past experiences and when we are put in situations that parallel a past one we are likely to revert back to an old way of living. If a girl is abused by a big strong football player with black hair in high school, she is likely to form a fearful attachment to that type of person. Its all relative. I know in my life I have gone from secure, dismissing, and preoccupied attachment styles on any given week, so I do not know how much credence I can give to a specific childhood relationship or experience to a given attachment style.

  14. Jessica says:

    I found this article to be very interesting, and I am looking forward to discussing it in further detail in class today. I was reading over everyone’s comments and found a common remark that I myself did not originally think about, and that is the comment about how one’s attachment style can vary depending on the “social partner.” This is an extremely valid point, because we all know that we ourselves are not the same exact person around each friend, family member, or peer. I would agree with the fact that I might have a more positive view of myself or others around a certain friend, and a more negative one around others. Yet overall, I feel that we do not change our attachment style to such an extreme extent to where it is not the same at all. It seems that we can vary in the degree to which we are positive or negative- but regardless we are still that attachment style deep down. Just like I can be a friendlier or quieter person around different people- but that does not mean I change how I normally am. Any behavior we have might change to a degree, but I feel that those actions and attachment styles are still rooted in who you are and that we do not jump around into different sections of styles.

  15. Lauren says:

    One thing about this article that I found particularly interesting is how the authors talked about the possibility and probability of a child keeping the same sense of attachment from as early on as infancy all the way through their adulthood. When thinking of myself, I had amazingly supportive parents who almost always knew just how much comfort to give my brother and I. Because of this, we have turned out to have a very secure sense of attachment. However, in looking at my friends who were not so lucky as to have a healthy and supportive family life have definitely proven to be either anxious-resistant or avoidant. I can think of two friends in particular who each perfectly resemble one of the two attachment types mentioned before. I think it’s really interesting when we know so much about our social world and don’t really realize it until it is brought to our attention. I think that is what a lot of this class will be too.

  16. LaurenW says:

    I think what I find most interesting on this topic is the details that attachment styles can differ from caregivers, different people, and throughout life. With my own attachment style, it differs between my mother and my attachment and the attachment I have with my father, my two primary caregivers. I feel I have a more secure attachment with my mother, quick to soothe when she returns and am more ambivalent with my dad. The biggest issue I find with attachment theory is the theory that as you grow in your attachment it usually goes from unstable to stable. In my personal experience, I’ve noticed my attachment theory becoming less stable as I continue to walk unsteadily toward adulthood and also find that my trust is lost in others around me and that my positive image of others becomes less stable and my image of myself as I am unsure of my future. However, I also feel that I am stable and consistent in absences of caregivers and primary roles in my life as the study indicates, which I believe supports the study’s findings that whatever the attachment, it is steady for much of the child’s life.

  17. Heather says:

    The findings that the article expounded upon were, although expected to some extent, in line with my views of men and many of the stereotypes regarding them. It stated that males received significantly higher ratings in the “dismissive” attachment category than women. The article explained “dismissive” attachment as correlating with high self-esteem and low emotional expressiveness. I found it really interesting how stereotypical this was! We so often see and describe men as being confident, as well as being emotionally stunted.

    Another thing I found interesting was that friends of the “dismissive” group reported them as being more introverted than the group itself did. This means that most people can tell that these men who seem so confident and outgoing really have deeper things going on inside. I’m glad that I am not the only one who had noticed! Beyond that tough exterior there really is an reserved, unsure person.

    Why are men conditioned to be this way? And why hasn’t anyone noticed or done anything about it?

  18. Jaime says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Attachment styles have always been interesting to me, particular how infant attachment style affects attachment styles in relationships later on in life. This is the first research that I have come across on young adults. One question that came to mind in relation to attachment styles is how people in relationships with differing attachment styles may affect one another. Would a person with a dismissing attachment style be able to have a healthy relationship with a person who was categorized as preoccupied? I was glad to read that people’s attachment styles can change, and that it usually happens in a positive direction. I would be interested to see research further investigating the gender differences in attachment styles, particularly the social implications for each attachment style and the difference that gender plays in that. I think that Bartholomew and Horowitz were right to focus on four styles of attachment rather than three, and I can think of people whose attachment styles match the description for each one of the categories.

  19. Brittany says:

    Ever since I took the basic classes in psychology that every psychology major has to take, I have been interested in learning about attachment styles. I really enjoyed Bartholomew & Horowitz’s article on the attachment styles among young adults. I found the results very interesting. In reading this article, as many of you have responded to as well, my initial response was to try to figure out what type of attachment style I have. However, this proved to be more difficult than I had thought. I was not able to place myself in one particular attachment style, but found myself displaying many of the characteristics located within each of the four different attachment styles. I also observed that in my case, this has changed over time, and has changed depending on the situation I am in, or who I am spending the greatest amount of time with. Upon thinking about this while reading this article, I questioned if one’s attachment style can be different across different settings? We do not always act in the same way in every situation. Sometimes we act differently with different groups of people. We may be more hesitant to trust or be intimate with someone due to hurt that we may have felt from previous relationships, whether they were intimate or not. Therefore, can the attachment style that one displays change across settings? Furthermore, can attachment styles change based on the attachment style that the person one is spending time displays? If they have a more secure attachment style does this mean that you will also display a more secure attachment style with them, or are attachment styles primarily due to what you have learned from a young age? Furthermore, can attachment styles change overtime due to different experiences within their social contexts or relationships? Can past experiences with different people change your attachment style? Does this look different in different experiences throughout the lifespan? Can they change depending on the different familial influences, intimate relationships, or friendships that one experiences over time? Why does this change so easily and what can cause this change to occur? Furthermore, if one person is not securely attached at a young age due to poor relationships with family members, can one become securely attached in an intimate relationship or friendship? Will this change based on different experiences? Also, what role does society place on the types of attachment styles one may experience? I am looking forward to discussing this in class.

    Like Dan, I also really liked how Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) discussed dominance in their article. I liked how they stated that in a dominant relationship one may learn to both, submit to and to dominate in different relationships, which affects their attachment style. I liked the example they used, where a preschooler who is victimized may also become the one victimizing others in other cases. I have personally seen this play out both in relationships between children, relationships between my friends and their other friends or significant others, as well as sometimes between a parent and a child.

    Also, like Jackie, I have always been intrigued by the confidence and positive image of the self that men are able to display. Women seem to have a much more difficult time with this. Why is it that it seems easier for men to display a more positive view of themselves than it is for women? Is that due to the media, social pressures, why is this the case?

  20. Shannon says:

    I always enjoy reading about attachment, because it seems so relevant to everyday relationships. Although it is just one of many theories, I feel like there is a lot of evidence that shows that there is a significant connection between the way a person a person was taken care of by his parents and the way he then goes on to relate to others as an individual. I liked reading the B & H article because it looked more closely at men and attachment. I agree with an earlier commenter – it seems like most men have relationship issues, and that may have a lot to do with how securely they were attached to their parents as children. Boys are generally expected to be more more independent and self-sustaining than girls, and so they are comforted less and given less attention. Of course, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am really interested to hear our class discussion this week, as I feel men and attachment is a very relevant topic.

  21. Sean says:

    The idea that the better attached you are, the more you would think highly of oneself is not shocking to me. I do like the noticeable difference between the dismissing and preoccupied groups. I had not realized that there would be people who think highly of themselves but pull away from intimacy as the dismissing type would. To me, it would seem that if one thought very (or too) highly of him/herself, then it would “naturally” follow that they somehow deserved to be intimate with whomever they wished – that others would gravitate toward them, both in a romantic as well as in a friendship-oriented relationship. The preoccupied group results and placement within the cells (as seen in the figures) acted according to what I had previously believed and had seen as proven by the work of Dr. Smith and others in the B&H study. It seemed reasonable that the preoccupied individuals would be overly involved in relationships, especially in the requirement to get validation. I have often met people, more women than men, who would fit this type – risking (or possibly being unaware of the intrusion all together) the possibility that the other person in the relationship might still shun them (as is the concern of the “fearful” group) just to satisfy their dependency needs.

    I think it is interesting that in Study 1 regarding the interview, self report, and friend report, B&H clearly defined “friends” as those who were of the same sex and who had been known to the participants of the study for at least 6 months. I’m wondering if this was simply to avoid the possible interfereance of subtle romantic feelings between friends of the opposite sex. In other words, was the requirement of “friends” made to be same-sex so as not to include the comments made by smitten individuals with crushes on the participatory students. Either way, I’m probably projecting my concern on the basis that I would not be able to participate in this study because all of my close friends are in fact female.

    The other interesting thing is that first-year college undergrads were excluded because it was believed that they could not have identified any true friends that would fit the requirements in such a short amount of time at school (one year or less). I’m not trying to pick apart the study and the way it was conducted, but it is curious to me that somehow knowing a person for 6 months suddenly ensures closeness or an ability to report true/accurate information regarding the participants. I have friends who I’ve known for over 4 years, but I could not give good answers that would satisfy the study. On the other hand, I have known certain individuals for less than 6 months and can honestly say that I “know” them better than my previously mentioned friends of 4 years. I guess this doesn’t *really* matter, but it is something that I picked up on right away.

    The study was interesting, and I really liked the point that was made on page 16: “…people seem to produce behaviors that evoke specific reactions from other people and this social feedback is interpreted in ways that confirm the person’s internal models of the self and others”. It reminds me of the concept of defense mechanisms – that people would slip into roles or act in certain ways that would elicit a specific desired response from others around them. A lot of this mental and emotional work seems to be subconscious as well. Since we operate so quickly, it would be impossible for “fearful” people to employ their known tactics, if you will, to get what they want out of society (and the same is true for the other 3 types as well). What is both frightening and reassuring is the idea that our styles permeate the multiple kinda of relationships that are possible – how we act with friends, spouses, co-workers, sexual partners, family members etc. It is good to know that the secure individual will probably relate to his/her spouce with the same capacity of openness, for example, as he/she would with their best friends or family members. On the other hand, one who is dismissive will probably get away with their actions in a co-worker, but will undoubtedly cause harm if this same style is repeated at home with a spouse.

    This study also reminds me of the parenting styles we learned about in Personal/Social Adjustment.

  22. Narges says:

    I really enjoyed reading about attachment styles and the differences between Bartholomew and Horowitz’s ideas and those of Hazan and Shaver and Main. I was intrigued to learn about how adult attachment is so directly affected by infant attachment style AND the caregiver’s own attachment style. This is a scary thought considering as dependent babes we have no say-so in the matter. It is sometimes overwhelming to think about the fact that we as infants experienced so much that so deeply affects our development and yet do not remember most of it. The pre-verbal stages of our life and all that we experience before we are able to speak and understand language shape so much of who we become and yet the irony is we don’t know what that all entails. We may have a general idea of the functionality of our family situation; yet we have no idea how those experiences have affected us or how they continue to manifest themselves in our subconscious. I dunno, it’s just a scary thought.

    Like Jaime, I was also interested in the dynamic of how the different attachment styles work together in relationship. The secure attachment has a positive view of self and of interpersonal relationships… can that sometimes be detrimental to their wellbeing, considering at times we cannot trust ourselves or depend on others? What about the fearful and dismissing and preoccupied attachments…are they not justified in having a negative view on these spheres of their life due to the negative experiences they may have had as a child or young adult? How do all of these differing attachments conjoined with individual personalities and unique upbringings/past experiences come together to make functional relationships?

    Another thing worthy of noting was something stated in the conclusion of the article: “None of the subjects in this project uniquely fit any one attachment prototype. Instead, most subjects reported a mix of tendencies across time and within and across relationships” (Bartholomew and Horowitz 1991). This is interesting and something that would be worth dialoging about… because I always just figured you were either one or the other or the other or the other…

  23. JenniferE says:

    I enjoyed the challenge (to an extent) of actually understanding the graphs and tables B+H came up with. The study made a lot of sense and confirmed the prior ideas and assumptions about attachment styles that I have read and felt before. It’s interesting to put friends and family into the categories I am almost sure they would exemplify! I found it very interesting that men scored higher on the “dismissing” scale and women scored higher on the “preoccupied” scale. I wonder if this is something that is organic or if it is more of the stereotypes that we are socialized to be/believe in. Perhaps these scales would be correlated differently if men and women were socialized to be the opposite. For example, are men just taught to be dismissing? Is dismissal a “strength” in our society’s stereotypical male role? Is preoccupation expected, allowed, even romanticized by women in our society? Aren’t so many love stories about a woman who is WAITING for a man to stop dismissing her and finally pay attention to her?

    The other things I found interesting were the ways that the friend scales correlated positively or negatively to the self-scale. I almost got jealous of the “secure” types nearly accurate view of themselves and their friends view of them! That is so amazing to me! That someone could feel the same way about themselves as their friends do. I know for sure that I am a “preoccupied” type… unfortunately. It is extremely apparent in my own life (as apparent as it is in the scale) that on many levels I view myself more negatively than my friends do. It was strange to see that in a graph about my attachment style! All my “secrets” uncovered! But seriously, I found the scales to be strangely accurate about the people I know who are in each category.

    The fact that attachment styles continue from childhood into adulthood is interesting. The proposal that only a different type of attachment in a significant relationship can change or transform one’s attachment style is very interesting. I think that this is the basis for “mentoring” relationships in the Christian tradition. The hope in these is that someone who is stable, loving, and in touch with a compassion for the person they are meeting with, can be a safe place and secure attachment for the troubled person. In time, the hope is that the troubled person will form a healthy attachment, feel loved, see the other person as lovable, and move forward into a NEW pattern of attachment and relationship!

    I really liked the other key times that B+H proposed as opportune times to change attachment style: autonomy from family, forgiveness of family’s inability to give secure love, new healthy attachments, going to college, new jobs, and retirement. Looks like there is time to find some security in attachments FOR US ALL! Thank God.

  24. Tyler says:

    Anytime we step back and ask ourselves how our present behaviors have been shaped by our past circumstances, we are bound to uncover some pretty interesting answers, and attachment theory is no exception.
    When I am able to reconcile these attachment styles with particular character and behavioral trends belonging to my friends, I have to believe in the legitimacy of these classifications. Everything from the witness of a securely attached lifestyle to the traceable trends of the evident mistrust of a dismissing person speaks to the possibility of these models explaining so much more of our tendencies than we could have imagined.
    What I would ask B + H is how they would classify someone with unrestricted tendencies towards an attachment style, even a secure one. For example, how would they classify an individual who has exceeding confidence in themselves and a trust in others that is unhindered? Is this some sort of hyper-security? It is sad that we categorize such blind trust and unlimited self-confidence as unhealthy, but, thus is the world we live in.
    So what would we say about such a subject? Is there a blending of these styles that I have overlooked? Or do these styles merely exist on a spectrum of intensity that cannot be measured by any single case? I would imagine that this is the case, but who knows, maybe science has some heavy medication and binomial label for people with an extreme willingness to trust and believe in themselves. Or maybe the rest of us are just jaded. Probably not the latter though, right? Probably not.

  25. Nicole says:

    Attachment theory is very interesting and I believe has much validity in it. However, like most theories that lead back to childhood and explain how someone acts based on those years spent living with mom and dad, I find that too much emphasis is put on childhood experiences rather than the growth that has occurred in the years since. Attachment is important because it happens through out our lifespan, and probably changes a lot. For example, even if attachment between a father and son is insecure in childhood, perhaps there is a male friendship or family member that becomes close to that son down the line, and a new and different attachment is made. Even if it is not the same, attachment still occurs. Also, romantic love as an attachment process is key because this is a type of relationship that can cause great amounts of pain and cause someone who easily attaches to recoil. In short, I think attachment is constantly changing and adapting based on circumstance and the people in our lives.

  26. Christen says:

    The Bartholomew and Horowitz (B and H) research article on attachment theory was both interesting and reinforcing to my own viewpoint on attachment theory. I have read and studied theories of infant attachment numerous times throughout my years in being a Psychology Major and have noted that the theories definitely seem to bear themselves out. The four group model of adult attachment proposed by Bartholomew and Horowitz just builds on the other theories that I have read about. Their proposed theory made perfect sense to me in that an individual’s attachment style as a child affects various aspects of one’s attachment to others on into adulthood. The B and H study results were found to be applicable and representative of family relationship attachment styles and also to correlate family attachment styles to peer attachment styles. The four types of attachment patterns were defined as using combinations of a person’s self image (positive or negative) and their image of others (positive or negative). B and H findings were in line with my observations of myself and other individuals throughout my life. I can attest to the fact that in different relationships and at different points in my life I have gone through at least three if not all four of the attachment styles noted in the article. When reading a theory such as B and H’s, it raises my awareness of the attachment theories and gets me thinking about where I fall and also where others might fall on this scale. Although not an exact science, attachment formed in childhood is said to remain fairly constant throughout the lifespan. When infants form strong, secure bonds with their caretakers, this moves on into their adult life with stronger, more trusting attachments with other adults. When infants bond in a more anxious, avoidant relationship with their initial caregiver, this translates into later relationships outside the family. In the initial infant relationship, at first the child is concerned with the image of other people and secondly the child’s image of the self. The more secure infants turn out to be more secure adults and this carried through in the further B and H studies. The B and H studies raised the theoretical issue of the positive relationship between self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. The article notes that the attachments are basically fixed but occur in different variations as one’s circumstances change or in different relationships throughout the lifespan. At the end of the article it does state that even though for the most part attachment styles remain stable; that once one is aware of the reasons behind their ways of relating to self and others, one can alter their own course, improve and overcome the earlier influences on attachments with understanding and specific self-work in the area.

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