Attachment and emotional memory: investigating the source and extent of avoidant memory impairments

Emotion. 2006 May;6(2):340-5. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.6.2.340.


Attachment avoidance has been associated with impairments in memory for material with emotional, attachment-related themes (e.g., loss). In the present study the author investigated the source and extent of these memory deficits by examining working memory capacity for attachment-related and nonattachment-related material. Avoidance was associated with deficits in working memory for positive and negative attachment-related stimuli. However, avoidance was unrelated to working memory capacity for nonattachment-related stimuli, both emotional and nonemotional. These findings are consistent with the proposal that avoidant individuals defensively limit the processing of potentially distressing information. Attachment anxiety was unrelated to working memory capacity across word type. Implications of the findings for defensive strategies and emotional memory are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attention
  • Escape Reaction*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Object Attachment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires