Mapping the intimate relationship mind : comparisons between three models of attachment representations
Type of content
This study tested and compared three models of the way multiple attachment working models are cognitively organized and structured. Model 1 suggests that attachment representation consists of relationship-specific working models and a single global working model that summarizes attachment across an individual's various specific relationships. Model 2 proposes that, instead of a global working model, three independent general attachment representations exist for the relationship domains of family, friendships and romantic partners. Model 3 describes attachment representation as a complex network of interconnected working models, constructed of both relationship-specific and relationship domain representations that are nested under an overarching global working model. Two hundred participants (100 males and 100 females) completed self-report ratings of general attachment within each of the three relationship domains, and self-report ratings of attachment for three specific relationships within each domain. As predicted, confirmatory factor analyses revealed, across both types of measurement and both attachment dimensions, that the best-fitting model was Model 3. These results were replicated across gender and current relationship status. Contrary to predictions, no differences in level of domain-differentiation were found according to levels of attachment anxious/ambivalence, avoidance, or attributional complexity. Implications for attachment theory and research, and the development, function and use of attachment working models are discussed.