Attentional breadth and proximity seeking in romantic attachment relationships

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Abstract

The present study provides first evidence that attentional breadth responses can be influenced by proximity-distance goals in adult attachment relationships. In a sample of young couples, we measured attachment differences in the breadth of attentional focus in response to attachment-related cues. Results showed that priming with a negative attachment scenario broadens attention when confronted with pictures of the attachment figure in highly avoidant men. In women, we found that attachment anxiety was associated with a more narrow attentional focus on the attachment figure, yet only at an early stage of information processing. We also found that women showed a broader attentional focus around the attachment figure when their partner was more avoidantly attached. This pattern of results reflects the underlying action of attachment strategies and provides insight into the complex and dynamic influence of attachment on attentional processing in a dyadic context.

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