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Physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to breaking up: The roles of gender, age, emotional involvement, and attachment style . Davis, Shaver, & Vernon (2003). Introduction. Anxious attachment associated with negative physical & emotional responses upon relationship dissolution

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slide1

Physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to breaking up:The roles of gender, age, emotional involvement, and attachment style

Davis, Shaver, & Vernon (2003)

introduction
Introduction
  • Anxious attachment associated with negative physical & emotional responses upon relationship dissolution
  • Few studies have examined behavioural responses & individual differences
  • PURPOSE: examine dysfunctional reactions to breakups among attachment styles
    • Distress/preoccupation
    • Ambivalent acting out
    • Coping & resolution
adult attachment
Adult Attachment

Regulation of Distress

  • Secure
    • Adaptive coping
    • Understanding perspective
  • Avoidant
    • Fewer emotional expressions
    • Greater emotional avoidance
  • Anxious
    • ‘Coercive’ strategy
      • Aggression & Seduction
attachment perspective on loss bowlby 1980
Attachment Perspective on Loss(Bowlby, 1980)
  • Protest
  • Despair
  • Reorganization/Reintegration
  • Individual difference in ‘disordered mourning’
slide5

Examined Reactions

1. Protest & Distress

2. Preoccupation/Exploration

3. Coping Strategies

4. Resolution

method
Method
  • Participants
    • n = 5,248 (64.4% female); age 15 – 50 (85.4% age 15 – 29)
  • Procedure
    • Internet based survey
  • Measures
    • Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR; Brennan et al., 1998)
    • Reactions to Breaking Up (author constructed; 72-item)
    • Demographics
      • (e.g., who terminated relationship, emotional involvement)
  • Analysis
    • Series of correlations & regressions
1 protest distress
1. Protest & Distress
  • Protest
    • Characteristic when threat to availability
    • Ambivalent acting out – ‘bipolar’ between desire ↔ hostility
  • Distress
    • Emotional & Physical
    • Lost interest in sex
    • Blame of loss
    • Guilt
1 protest distress1
1. Protest & Distress
  • H1a: Distress & protest rxns = +ve attachment anxiety
    • (ps < .001)
    • Anxious attachment =  aggression
  • H1b: Distress & protest rxns = -ve attachment avoidance
    • (ps < .001)
  • Emotional involvement associated with distress
    • (.05< ps < .001)
    • Strongest = emotional distress; weakest = self-blame
      • Avoidant = more self-blame (vs. partner blame)?
2 preoccupation exploration
2. Preoccupation/ Exploration
  • H2a: breakups =  preoccupation in anxiously attached
    • (p < .001)
  • H2b:  preoccupation = interference of exploratory behaviour
    • (p < .001)
  • Emotional involvement = associated with  preoccupation & interference of exploratory behaviour
    • (ps < .001)
3 coping strategies
3. Coping Strategies
  • H3: insecure attachment = maladaptive coping strategies
    • Anxious attachment = social coping (p < .001)
    • Avoidant attachment = self-reliance (p < .001)
  • Insecure attachment = alcohol & drug use (ps < .001)
  • Avoidance of partner:
    • Anxious = self-initiated termination (p < .001)
    • Avoidant = other-initiated termination (p < .001)
    •  emotional involvement
4 resolution
4. Resolution
  • H4a: anxious attachment =  perseverance to reestablish relationship
    • (p < .001)
  • H4b: anxious attachment = lost sense of identity
    • (p < .001)
  • H4c: replacement of lost partner =  anxiously attached
    • (p < .001); if self-initiated = +ve; partner initiated = -ve
  • H4d: replacement of lost partner = avoidantly attached
    • (p < .001) regardless of initiation
descriptive results
Descriptive Results
  • Gender ≠ differences in attachment style
  • F = more emotionally involved
  • Person to initiate breakup:
    •  anxiety
    •  emotional involvement
    •  avoidance
putting humpty back together
Putting Humpty Back Together
  • Those who are more emotionally involved experience greater distress
  • Anxious attachment:
    • Preoccupation & perseverance interfere with functioning – exploratory behaviour, coping, disordered self-identity
    •  motivation to reestablish relationship =  aggression
  • Avoidant attachment – not as boring as once thought?
    • Unique finding of more self-blame – important?
slide14
Limitations

Future Direction

Examine longitudinally

Different measures of attachment (e.g., AAI)

 aggression in anxiously attached – examine gender perceptions & behaviours

Verbal? Physical? Gender?

  • Memory Recall
  • Correlational – not causation
  • Presenting this study:
    • 1. in 15(ish) minutes
    • 2. Organization
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