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Attachment insecurity and infidelity in marriage: do studies of dating relationships really inform us about marriage?

Russell VM, et al. J Fam Psychol. 2013.

Abstract

Attachment theory provides a useful framework for predicting marital infidelity. However, most research has examined the association between attachment and infidelity in unmarried individuals, and we are aware of no research that has examined the role of partner attachment in predicting infidelity. In contrast to research showing that attachment anxiety is unrelated to infidelity among dating couples, 2 longitudinal studies of 207 newlywed marriages demonstrated that own and partner attachment anxiety interacted to predict marital infidelity, such that spouses were more likely to perpetrate infidelity when either they or their partner was high (vs. low) in attachment anxiety. Further, and also in contrast to research on dating couples, own attachment avoidance was unrelated to infidelity, whereas partner attachment avoidance was negatively associated with infidelity, indicating that spouses were less likely to perpetrate infidelity when their partner was high (vs. low) in attachment avoidance. These effects emerged controlling for marital satisfaction, sexual frequency, and personality; did not differ across husbands and wives; and did not differ across the two studies, with the exception that the negative association between partner attachment avoidance and own infidelity only emerged in 1 of the 2 studies. These findings offer a more complete understanding of the implications of attachment insecurity for marital infidelity and suggest that studies of unmarried individuals may not provide complete insights into the implications of various psychological traits and processes for marriage.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID

23544923 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID

PMC3648986

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