Transference and attachment: how do attachment patterns get carried forward from one relationship to the next?

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2006 Apr;32(4):552-60. doi: 10.1177/0146167205282740.


This research investigated how working models of attachment are carried forward from one relationship to the next. A two-part study was conducted in which participants learned about two potential dating partners: one that was constructed to resemble a romantic partner from their past and one that resembled a partner from another participant's past. Results showed that people applied their attachment representations of past partners to both targets but did so to a greater degree when the target resembled a past partner. People also tended to feel more anxious and less avoidant toward the target that resembled their past partner. Overall, the findings were consistent with the hypothesis that working models of attachment are transferred in both general and selective ways in new relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transference, Psychology*