ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 5, Issue 2, 134-150, 2014
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An Experimental Evaluation of the State Adult Attachment Measure: The Influence of Attachment Primes on the Content of State Attachment Representations

Guy Bosmans(a), David P. Bowles(b), Marieke Dewitte(c), Simon De Winter(a), Caroline Braet(d)
(a) Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, KU Leuven
(b) Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, Sheffield Hallam University
(c) Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University
(d) Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology, Ghent University

Volume 5, Issue 2, 2014, Pages 134-150

Attachment theory predicts cross-contextual stability of attachment representations, but research findings are rather mixed. Recently, it has been suggested that these mixed findings reflect the existence of both state and trait attachment components. The development of the State Adult Attachment Measure (SAAM) has enabled an investigation of this hypothesis. The current study aimed to evaluate the extent to which the SAAM is a useful instrument for studying such state attachment hypotheses. For this purpose, a two-week longitudinal study investigated whether the manipulation of the temporal accessibility of different attachment contents activates different within-person attachment representations. The impact of attachment primes before re-administering the SAAM was investigated in 268 participants. Results showed that the SAAM was meaningfully related to evaluations of self and attachment figures. Moreover, activation of different attachment contexts influenced state attachment towards partners as primary attachment figures. The results provide support for the SAAM as a measure of state attachment towards partners, but data on parent attachment were less straightforward. In all, the current study provided support for contemporary models of attachment as comprising both trait-like stability and context-dependent variability in attachment state.

Table of Contents
Priming Attachment Meaning Influences the Content of Activated Attachment Representations
 Attachment-related Mental States
 The Current Study
  State Attachment.
  Primary Attachment Figure.
  Evaluation of the Self.
  Evaluation of the Attachment Figure.
  Visual Analogue Scales for Mood Changes.
 Preliminary Analyses
 Attachment States and Evaluations of Self and Attachment Figures
 Attachment Primes and Within-person Attachment State Variability
 Attachment Primes and Rank Order Variability
 Attachment States and Evaluations of Self and Attachment Figures
 Attachment Primes and Within-person Attachment State Variability
 Attachment Primes and Rank Order Variability
 Theoretical Implications
 Clinical Implications

Correspondence to
Guy Bosmans, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, KU Leuven, Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2, bus 3765, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

Adult Attachment, Stability, Connectionist Models, Cognitive-Affective Personality Systems

Received 29 Dec 2012; Revised 25 Oct 2013; Accepted 29 Oct 2013; In Press 30 Mar 2014

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