Adult attachment style, relationship satisfaction, and body dissatisfaction in women




Brown, Wendy Peterson

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Attachment style is an integral piece to personality that affects many facets of life. The fulfillment and satisfaction experienced in relationships, specifically romantic relationships, is an essential desire for most people and influences their health, well-being, and happiness (Bowlby, 1988: Shaver & Mikulincer, 2006). Individuals who feel secure in their relationships tend to fare better overall, experience more relational satisfaction, and have fewer psychological consequences (i.e., depression or anxiety) related to their relationships (Feeney, 2002; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Shaver & Mikulincer, 2002). Further, insecurely attached individuals use more destructive coping strategies to manage their interpersonal feelings (Gaines et al., 1997), putting them at increased risk for the development of negative behaviors and self-beliefs such as body dissatisfaction (McKinley & Randa, 2005: Troisi et al., 2006). Because of the pressures of modern culture, body dissatisfaction and other body image concerns are an alarming phenomenon and may be related to attachment style (Cash, Theriault, & Annis, 2004; Cheng & Mallinckrodt, 2009; Greenwood & Pietromonaco, 2004; Troisi et al., 2006) and relational satisfaction (Friedman, Dixon, Brownell, Whisman, & Wilfley, 1999; Hoyt & Kogan, 2001; McKinley & Randa, 2005) in women. The purpose of the current investigation was to assess the relationships between adult attachment style, body dissatisfaction, and intimate partner relationship satisfaction in women. Women from a college sample completed (a) a demographic questionnaire, (b) the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998), (c) the Satisfaction subscale of the Investment Model Scale (Rusbult, Martz, & Agnew, 1998), and (d) the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ; Cooper, Taylor, Cooper, & Fairbum., 1987). Results indicated both styles of insecure attachment (anxious and avoidant) experienced decreased romantic relationship satisfaction but only the anxiously attached individuals experienced increased body dissatisfaction. Inconsistent with prior research, there was not a relationship between relationship satisfaction and body dissatisfaction (Cash, Theriault, et al., 2004; Friedman et al., 1999; McKinley & Randa, 2005). Further, relationship satisfaction did not moderate the relationship between an anxious attachment and body dissatisfaction, implying that attachment style is a robust factor in the prevalence of body dissatisfaction. Implications for future directions are discussed.



Womens studies, Counseling Psychology, Personality traits, Personal relationships, Anatomy & physiology, Mental depression