ADULT ATTACHMENT AND EXPLORATION: THE EFFECT OF ATTACHMENT STYLE ON THE EXPERIENCE OF EXPLORATION
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According to attachment theory a key moderator in the enjoyment of exploration is the strength of a person's secure base. To study exploration we placed participants in a situation in which they confronted a novel stimulus. We also gathered self-reported data on their mood immediately before and after this encounter with a novel stimulus as well as their attitudes about the novel stimulus activity. The effect of a ?secure base? on this encounter was examined in two ways: first through chronic attachment, and second through priming participants with either a secure attachment prime, an insecure attachment prime or a neutral prime. Thus, this study makes two categories of predictions: the first regarding the effect of chronic attachment, and the second regarding the effect of primed attachment. Regarding the effect of chronic attachment, we predicted that there would be an interaction between the novelty of the stimulus and chronic attachment. Specifically, we found that both chronic attachment avoidance and chronic attachment anxiety predicted greater tense mood following the activity and greater anxiety about the activity. In addition, we found that chronic avoidant attachment was related to greater anger following the activity and less happiness following the activity. These results remained significant even when mood immediately before the activity was controlled. Regarding primed attachment, we found that there was an interaction between primed attachment and novelty condition. (During the study, participants in the low novelty condition interacted more extensively with the novelty stimulus than did participants in the high novelty condition.) Specifically, we found that participants in the low novelty condition reacted more strongly to the attachment prime than participants in the high novelty condition. Further, the attachment prime predicted the direction of the change in mood. Thus, for the low novelty conditions, participants primed with secure attachment reported significantly more happiness and higher positive affect on a composite mood scale, compared with participants primed with insecure attachment. In the same way, again for the low novelty conditions, participants primed with secure attachment reported significantly lower levels of anger, compared with participants primed with insecure attachment.
Martin, Archibald M. (2009). ADULT ATTACHMENT AND EXPLORATION: THE EFFECT OF ATTACHMENT STYLE ON THE EXPERIENCE OF EXPLORATION. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from