Two of a kind: Perceptions of own and partner's attachment characteristics


  • This research was supported by a grant from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame. We gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Susan Boon, Catherine Ruvolo, and Elaine Scharfe on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Address correspondence to Ann Ruvolo, Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:


Because it is universally relevant, and because it is formed in infancy, giving it a strong preconscious quality, attachment was chosen for a study of Allport's (1924) construct of social projection. Individuals in 301 dating couples rated themselves and their partners on each of four continuous attachment dimensions (i.e., security, dismissiveness, preoccupation, fearfulness). The individual's own rating on a particular dimension significantly predicted the individual's perception of how the partner rated on the dimension, after controlling for the partner's self-rating on the dimension. Thus people perceived their partners to be more similar to themselves than they really were, demonstrating social projection. In general, the higher the degree of emotional intimacy was, the more social projection was demonstrated.