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Do episodic self- and partner-uncertainty mediate the association between attachment orientations and emotional responses to relationship-threatening events in dating couples?

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journal contribution
posted on 02.06.2016, 12:34 by Sylvia Niehuis, Alan Reifman, Judith L. Fischer, Kyung-Hee Lee

This study examined relational-uncertainty perceptions (a form of cognitive appraisal) to investigate how partners in 272 heterosexual couples responded emotionally to a relationship-challenging event. Participants rated themselves on attachment anxiety and avoidance. Then, after listing a challenging event, they rated how uncertain it made them about their own and their partner's continued involvement in the relationship. Participants also rated how angry and fearful the event made them. An Actor-Partner Interdependence Model yielded three sets of results. First, actor effects from insecure attachment orientations to episodic relational uncertainty emerged. Second, proposed mediation between attachment orientations and emotional reactions by uncertainty was partially supported (perceived partner-uncertainty partially mediated the positive association of anxious attachment and fear, and self-uncertainty partially mediated the positive relation between avoidant attachment and anger). Finally, a partner effect was found between one couple member's avoidant attachment and the other's perceived partner uncertainty. Men and women exhibited similar findings.