Patterns of stability in adult attachment: An empirical test of two models of continuity and change

R. Chris Fraley, Amanda M. Vicary, Claudia Chloe Brumbaugh, Glenn I. Roisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-992
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Attachment styles
  • Personality
  • Stability
  • Trait-state models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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