An examination of relationship quality from an attachment perspective: empathy and relationship perfectionism as mediating factors
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This study examined the relationships between attachment style, empathy, relationship perfectionism, and relationship quality among a sample of adults currently in a romantic relationship. Based on previous research and conceptual reasoning, it was hypothesized that both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance would be negatively related to constructive conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction, that empathy would be positively related to constructive conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction, and that relationship perfectionism would be negatively related to constructive conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction. In addition, this study examined the hypothesized mediation effects that both empathy and relationship perfectionism would serve as partial mediators in the relationships between attachment and relationship quality variables of constructive conflict resolution and satisfaction. Because attachment styles are activated during times of distress and conflict (Pietromonaco, Greenwood, & Barrett, 2004), the present study used three different priming conditions (i.e., discomfort related to attachment partner, neutral discomfort, and no discomfort) to activate attachment systems of randomly assigned participants. It was hypothesized that when attachment style was primed, the mediating effects would be greater in magnitude. Using online and paper-and-pencil classroom methods, 556 participants who were currently in a romantic relationship for at least one month were recruited from 23 U.S. states. Results revealed that higher levels of avoidant and anxious attachment led to poor conflict resolution strategies and poorer relationship satisfaction, and that relationship perfectionism served as a mediator for both of these relationships. Clinical implications, study limitations, and future research are discussed.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix - Measures