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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Feb;37(2):193-214. doi: 10.1177/0146167210392789.

Sex differences in romantic attachment: a meta-analysis.

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  • University of Turin, Torino, Italy. marco.delgiudice@unito.it


This article presents the first meta-analysis of sex differences in the avoidance and anxiety dimensions of adult romantic attachment, based on 113 samples (N = 66,132) from 100 studies employing two-dimensional romantic attachment questionnaires (Experiences in Close Relationships, Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised, and Adult Attachment Questionnaire). Overall, males showed higher avoidance and lower anxiety than females, with substantial between-study heterogeneity. Sex differences were much larger in community samples (bivariate D = .28) than in college samples (D = .12); web-based studies showed the smallest sex differences (D = .07) in the opposite direction. Sex differences also varied across geographic regions (overall Ds = .10 to .34). Sex differences in anxiety peaked in young adulthood, whereas those in avoidance increased through the life course. The relevance of these findings for evolutionary models of romantic attachment is discussed, and possible factors leading to underestimation of sex differences are reviewed.

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