Attachment style, excessive reassurance seeking, relationship processes, and depression

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Mar;31(3):343-59. doi: 10.1177/0146167204271709.


The authors examined the association between excessive reassurance seeking (ERS) in couple relationships and depression, hypothesizing that this association can be explained by attachment anxiety. In Study 1, 72 couples completed questionnaires about ERS, depression, attachment style, and relationship quality. In Study 2, 61 couples completed the same measures in addition to completing daily diary assessments for 14 days. In both studies, ERS was related to depression, but only because of its association with attachment anxiety. The association between attachment anxiety and depression was not mediated by either partner's relationship quality, even though partners noticed each other's ERS. Instead, relationship quality was related primarily to avoidant attachment. These findings were replicated at a daily level of analysis, where interesting details of the underlying processes were revealed. At least in young unmarried couples, depression is associated with attachment anxiety--and one of its facets, ERS--mostly for intrapsychic reasons.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Object Attachment*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires