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Abstract

Across two studies, we examined the extent to which adults' caregiving responses reflect the quality of care received from their attachment figures. Study 1 showed that romantic caregiving reflected the quality of perceived parental and partner care. Moreover, perceived partner care mediated the link between parental care and romantic caregiving, suggesting that one's parental care affects the type of care one seeks or receives from partners, which in turn affects one's romantic caregiving. This describes a possible process for the intergenerational transmission of caregiving styles. Romantic attachment anxiety was associated with compulsive caregiving to partners. Study 2 examined causal mechanisms by priming a representation of perceived peer care and examining its effect on caregiving responses. As hypothesized, caregiving responses reflected the quality of primed peer care and were associated with attachment orientation. Findings provide evidence that individuals mentally represent the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the care-seeker and the caregiver during interactions and both influence one's caregiving to partners and friends. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.