The first author was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
From the Cradle to the Grave: Age Differences in Attachment From Early Adulthood to Old Age
Article first published online: 5 FEB 2013
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Volume 81, Issue 2, pages 171–183, April 2013
How to Cite
Chopik, W. J., Edelstein, R. S. and Fraley, R. C. (2013), From the Cradle to the Grave: Age Differences in Attachment From Early Adulthood to Old Age. Journal of Personality, 81: 171–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2012.00793.x
We thank Ethan Kross and members of the Personality, Cognition, and Emotion lab for their comments on earlier versions of this article.
- Issue published online: 20 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 5 FEB 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 15 MAY 2012 06:13AM EST
- personality development;
- age differences;
Although attachment dynamics are thought to be important across the life span, relatively few studies have examined attachment processes beyond young adulthood. Extant research on age differences in attachment orientation has yielded conflicting results and interpretations. The purpose of this study was to provide a more complete picture of age-related differences in attachment anxiety and avoidance.
We examined attachment anxiety and avoidance in 86,555 Internet respondents (71.8% female) ranging in age from 18 to 70.
We found that attachment anxiety was highest among younger adults and lowest among middle-aged and older adults. Attachment avoidance showed less dramatic age differences overall but was highest among middle-aged adults and lowest among younger and older adults. In addition, partnered individuals reported lower levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance compared to single individuals, particularly in younger and older adulthood. Women also reported slightly higher anxiety and avoidance compared to men, especially in young adulthood.
Findings are discussed in the context of life span changes in social roles, normative personality development, and emotion regulation throughout adulthood.