Testing the compatibility of attachment anxiety and avoidance with cultural self-construals
The Journal of Psychology
1 - 22
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Insecure attachment has been associated with relatively more negative outcomes in mainstream attachment literature, yet several empirical studies show almost half of the populations globally are insecurely attached. Moreover, although attachment security is the universal norm, attachment anxiety and avoidance exhibit significant cultural variation. To explore how this variation can offer certain advantages to people with insecure attachment tendencies, we tested the novel idea that different insecure attachment behaviors can be differentially compatible with varying cultural senses of self (i.e. independent vs. interdependent self-construal) in an experimental setting. We manipulated cultural self-construal by exposing the participants (N = 164) to either an independence or an interdependence prime and asked them to evaluate vignettes depicting typical anxious and avoidant behaviors. The results showed that insecure attachment behaviors were evaluated as more favorable when they were compatible with one’s own attachment tendency. Importantly, this trend was moderated by the cultural self-construal: Participants evaluated even those insecure attachment behaviors that were inconsistent with their own tendencies more favorably when these behaviors were compatible with the cultural self-construal that was experimentally induced. The findings are discussed in light of cultural implications.
KeywordsCompatibility of attachment insecurity
Social defense theory
Independent and interdependent self-construals