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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Mar;78(3):478-98.

Self-esteem and the quest for felt security: how perceived regard regulates attachment processes.

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Psychology Department, State University of New York at Buffalo, New Yrok 14260-4110, USA.


The authors proposed that personal feelings of self-esteem foster the level of confidence in a partner's regard critical for satisfying attachments. Dating and married couples described themselves, their partners, how they thought their partners saw them, and how they wanted their partners to see them on a variety of interpersonal qualities. The results revealed that low self-esteem individuals dramatically underestimated how positively their partners saw them. Such unwarranted and unwanted insecurities were associated with less generous perceptions of partners and lower relationship well-being. The converse was true for high self-esteem individuals. A longitudinal examination of the dating couples revealed that the vulnerabilities of lows were only exacerbated over time. A dependency regulation model is proposed, wherein felt security in a partner's perceived regard is suggested as a prime mechanism linking self-esteem to relational well-being.

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