Romantic Attachment and Support Preferences in New Mothers: The Moderating Role of Stress

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Abstract

In the present research, we examined whether attachment anxiety and avoidance in support recipients were related to preferences for specific types of support. In addition, we examined whether stress moderated the relationship between attachment and support needs. Two-hundred and forty-five first-time mothers, currently involved in romantic relationships, participated in study 1, in which support needs and stress were appraised over the previous month using self-reports. High levels of attachment avoidance were related to needing less support, but attachment anxiety was not associated with support needs. There was no hyperactivation or deactivation of the attachment system in response to stress. It is possible that recall bias, associated with cross-sectional methods, may have confounded the results. In study 2, we sought to replicate these hypotheses using an ambulatory method to examine the association between attachment and momentary support needs in the daily life of mothers with babies (N = 40). Results revealed that attachment anxiety was associated with a preference for high levels of momentary support, but attachment avoidance was not related to any support needs. Stress experienced in the moment was found to moderate the relationships between attachment and support needs, with mothers high in anxiety and avoidance needing more support.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Dec 2020