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, 70 ( Pt 3), 249-63; discussion 281-90

Adult Attachment Processes: Individual and Couple Perspectives


Adult Attachment Processes: Individual and Couple Perspectives

K Bartholomew. Br J Med Psychol.


This paper overviews a new approach to understanding the range of difficulties experienced in close attachment relationships in adulthood. Drawing on the work of Bowlby, four prototypic adult attachment patterns are defined in terms of the intersection of two underlying dimensions, the positivity of the person's self-image and the positivity of the person's image of others (Bartholomew, 1990; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). The distinct interpersonal difficulties associated with each attachment pattern are described. Findings are presented indicating that individual differences in attachment have implications for the quality of adults' romantic relationships, and that attachment theory may be helpful in understanding violent spousal relationships. Five current issues in the study of adult attachment are addressed: the stability of attachment patterns, the associations between attachment and general personality factors, the relative merits of categorical and prototype assessments of attachment, the identification of multiple attachments in adulthood, and the specificity of adult attachment patterns. It is suggested that the four-category model of adult attachment is especially sensitive to the range and complexity of attachment-related difficulties experienced in adulthood.

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