Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

C. Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 1

Larry Locker

Committee Member 2

Rebecca Ryan

Abstract

Whether adult or infant, attachment bonds aid in the development of beliefs about oneself and others (Collins & Read, 1990; Hazen & Shaver, 1987). Additionally, attachment seems to play a vital role in human development, communication, emotion recognition and comprehension, and the development of appropriate mental representations of emotional experiences (Denham et al., 2002; Greg & Howe, 2001; Raikes & Thompson, 2006). Because attachment is considered a somewhat stable trait, it seems logical that the importance of emotional experiences would not be limited to childhood, and would be important in establishing and maintaining healthy adult relationships (Kerr, Melley, Travea, & Pole, 2003).

This study sought to expand upon current attachment literature by further examining the relationship between attachment and identification of emotional stimuli. Participants rapidly responded to a series of computer images of picture/emotion word pairings followed by a series of questionnaires, including: The Adult Attachment Questionnaire (AAQ; Hazan & Shaver, 1987/1990) and The Experiences in Close Relationships - Revised (ECR-R; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998; Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000), Attachment styles were examined to identify the relationship between differing styles and ability to quickly and accurately identify emotion-related stimuli. Contrary to hypotheses, results reveal no main effect of attachment, however do demonstrate significance of the negative picture/word pairing. Mikulincer and Shaver’s (2003) integrative model of attachment-related strategies provides a possible explanation for these findings. More information is necessary to determine the role of adult attachment and emotion identification.

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