Attachment formation and transfer in young adults' close friendships and romantic relationships

R. Chris Fraley, Keith E. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two hundred thirty-seven young adults from an American university completed a questionnaire designed to test several normative implications of attachment theory. As predicted, the majority of participants (60%) used their parents as primary attachment figures but were in the process of transferring attachment-related functions from parents to peers (best friends and romantic partners). The transfer of these functions from parents to peers was found to increase as a function of the duration of the peer relationship. Furthermore, factors that generally promote the development of attachment formation in infancy (such as caregiving, trust, and intimate contact) were found to be positively associated with the development of attachment in adult relationships. Additional variables were identified that may facilitate peer attachment formation: secure working models of attachment and the perceived security of the peer. It is argued that future investigations into the role of attachment formation and transfer are critical for a comprehensive description of attachment dynamics in adult relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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