Attachment and Sexual Communication Behaviour
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Attachment theory is one of the major theoretical frameworks for understanding romantic relationships. Attachment styles are formed through interactions with caregivers, and shape an individual’s expectations of subsequent interpersonal relationships. In this study, we examined how attachment styles influence a participant’s ability to communicate with the partner about problems in their sexual relationship. A community sample of 81 couples engaged in two video-recorded discussions, one representing an aspect of the couple’s sexual relationship where the male partner wanted change and the second representing an aspect of the sexual relationship where the female partner wanted change. Conversations were then coded, with each person being rated on three positive communication dimensions (positive affect, offering solutions, and responsiveness) and three negative communication dimensions (hostility, negative affect, and unskilled communication behaviours). Two factors were then created for each partner: one for the positive dimension and one for the negative dimension of that individual’s sexual communication. As predicted, attachment avoidance was related to more negative and less positive communication for both the individual and his/her partner. Our observational data did not reveal any significant effects of attachment anxiety on an individual’s own communication behaviour or the partner’s communication behaviours. These results can be contrasted with findings from self-report studies that do suggest that an anxious attachment adversely impacts sexual communication.
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Julia McNeil (2017). Attachment and Sexual Communication Behaviour. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12320