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Shared and Distinctive Origins and Correlates of Adult Attachment Representations: The Developmental Organization of Romantic Functioning


  • This report is based on the doctoral dissertation completed by the first author at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. This research was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health grant to Byron Egeland, L. Alan Sroufe, and W. Andrew Collins (R01-MH40864); by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to W. Andrew Collins, Byron Egeland, and L. Alan Sroufe (R01-HD054850); and by an NIMH predoctoral training grant to the third author (T32MH015755-32). The first and fifth authors’ involvement with this research was also in part supported by a grant from NICHD (R01 HD054822). The authors gratefully acknowledge this financial support.

concerning this article should be addressed to Katherine C. Haydon, Psychology Department, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075. Electronic mail may be sent to


To test proposals regarding the hierarchical organization of adult attachment, this study examined developmental origins of generalized and romantic attachment representations and their concurrent associations with romantic functioning. Participants (= 112) in a 35-year prospective study completed the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and Current Relationship Interview (CRI). Two-way analysis of variance tested interactive associations of AAI and CRI security with infant attachment, early parenting quality, preschool ego resiliency, adolescent friendship quality, and adult romantic functioning. Both representations were associated with earlier parenting and core attachment-related romantic behavior, but romantic representations had distinctive links to ego resiliency and relationship-specific romantic behaviors. Attachment representations were independent and did not interactively predict romantic functioning, suggesting that they confer somewhat distinctive benefits for romantic functioning.

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