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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Mar;78(3):509-23.

Stress and accessibility of proximity-related thoughts: exploring the normative and intraindividual components of attachment theory.

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Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.


Three studies examine the effects of stress on the accessibility of proximity-related thoughts. In all the studies, participants reported on their attachment style, and the accessibility of proximity themes and worries in a lexical decision task was assessed upon the priming of a stress or neutral word. In Study 2, the primed stress word was semantically related to attachment themes. In Study 3, lexical decisions were made under low or high cognitive load conditions. Overall, the priming of a stress word led to increased accessibility of proximity themes, regardless of attachment style. Anxious-ambivalent people also showed high accessibility to proximity themes and worries in both neutral and stress contexts. In most conditions, avoidant persons' reactions were similar to those of secure persons. However, they showed no accessibility to proximity worries even after the priming of a semantically related word and reacted with high accessibility to these worries upon the addition of cognitive load.

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