Volitional Change in Adult Attachment: Can People Who Want to Become Less Anxious and Avoidant Move Closer Towards Realizing Those Goals?

Nathan W. Hudson, William J. Chopik, Daniel A. Briley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

People value relationships and want to relate to both friends and romantic partners in a secure and comfortable fashion. But can individuals move towards realizing this goal of their own volition? To address this question, across three studies with a combined total of more than 4000 participants, we developed and validated a new measure of people's desires to change their attachment anxiety and avoidance. In Study 1, we created the new, 16-item Change Goals—Experiences in Close Relationships measure. In Study 2, we replicated the Change Goals—Experiences in Close Relationships' factor structure and demonstrated that it correlates in theoretically expected ways with criterion variables (e.g. people who were high in undesirable traits such as anxiety or avoidance generally wanted to change those traits; change goals were linked to dissatisfaction with relevant life domains). Finally, in Study 3, we conducted a 16-wave, weekly longitudinal study. Results indicated that goals to change attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted corresponding growth across time (e.g. people who wanted to become less anxious tended to experience declines in attachment anxiety across time). Thus, our research provides a new measure for studying changes in attachment and suggests people may be able to increase in attachment security per their own volition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-114
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • adult attachment
  • adult personality development
  • change goals
  • volitional personality change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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