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Conflicting Pressures on Romantic Relationship Commitment for Anxiously Attached Individuals


concerning this article should be addressed to Samantha Joel, University of Toronto, Department of Psychology, Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3. Email:


ABSTRACT Anxious attachment predicts strong desires for intimacy and stability in romantic relationships, yet the relation between anxious attachment and romantic commitment is unclear. We propose that extant literature has failed to find a consistent relation because anxiously attached individuals experience conflicting pressures on commitment. Data from Australia (N=137) show that relationship satisfaction and felt security each act as suppressors of a positive relation between anxious attachment and commitment. Data from Japan (N=159) replicate the suppression effect of felt security and also demonstrate that the residual positive relation between anxious attachment and commitment can be partly explained by dependence on the partner. These findings suggest that anxiously attached individuals may be ambivalent about commitment. Dissatisfaction and worries about negative evaluation appear to exert downward pressure on commitment, counteracting the upward pressure that is exerted by factors such as relational dependency.