Exploring the Association between Adult Attachment Styles in Romantic Relationships, Perceptions of Parents from Childhood and Relationship Satisfaction


Little research has examined how attachment styles in childhood are related to current romantic relationship experiences. The aim of this study was to explore the association between perceptions of childhood experiences with parents, attachment styles in romantic relationships, and relationship satisfaction in a sample of young adults. The sample consisted of 227 participants, 153 of which were university students and the remaining 69 were members of the general population. Of these, 177 (78%) were female and 50 (22%) were male, with an age range of 18 - 39. Participants completed a battery of self-report measures assessing their attachment style in romantic relationships, satisfaction in their current romantic relationship, and an adjective checklist describing their parents and their parent’s relationship with each other. The majority of males had an avoidant-fearful style, while females tended to have an avoidant-fearful or secure style. Findings were that participants’ descriptions of their mother, father, and parental relationship were associated with their attachment style. In terms of a current romantic relationship, those with a secure attachment style were much more likely to be in a relationship whereas those with an avoidant-fearful style were not. Secure participants were more satisfied in their relationships than the insecure styles of attachment. Finally, chi-square tests revealed that there was no association between gender and attachment style. Results were discussed in terms of methodological limitations such as the use of self-report measures; theoretical weaknesses for example the variability in the approaches used in attachment research; and future research, which included the use of longitudinal studies which may offer insight into how early parenting behaviours act as predictors of later relationship functioning.

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Gleeson, G. and Fitzgerald, A. (2014) Exploring the Association between Adult Attachment Styles in Romantic Relationships, Perceptions of Parents from Childhood and Relationship Satisfaction. Health, 6, 1643-1661. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.613196.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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