Adult attachment styles, destructive conflict resolution, and the experience of intimate partner violence

  • Although there is ample evidence linking insecure attachment styles and intimate partner violence (IPV), little is known about the psychological processes underlying this association, especially from the victim’s perspective. The present study examined how attachment styles relate to the experience of sexual and psychological abuse, directly or indirectly through destructive conflict resolution strategies, both self-reported and attributed to their opposite-sex romantic partner. In an online survey, 216 Spanish undergraduates completed measures of adult attachment style, engagement and withdrawal conflict resolution styles shown by self and partner, and victimization by an intimate partner in the form of sexual coercion and psychological abuse. As predicted, anxious and avoidant attachment styles were directly related to both forms of victimization. Also, an indirect path from anxious attachment to IPV victimization was detected via destructive conflict resolution strategies. Specifically, anxiously attached participants reported aAlthough there is ample evidence linking insecure attachment styles and intimate partner violence (IPV), little is known about the psychological processes underlying this association, especially from the victim’s perspective. The present study examined how attachment styles relate to the experience of sexual and psychological abuse, directly or indirectly through destructive conflict resolution strategies, both self-reported and attributed to their opposite-sex romantic partner. In an online survey, 216 Spanish undergraduates completed measures of adult attachment style, engagement and withdrawal conflict resolution styles shown by self and partner, and victimization by an intimate partner in the form of sexual coercion and psychological abuse. As predicted, anxious and avoidant attachment styles were directly related to both forms of victimization. Also, an indirect path from anxious attachment to IPV victimization was detected via destructive conflict resolution strategies. Specifically, anxiously attached participants reported a higher use of conflict engagement by themselves and by their partners. In addition, engagement reported by the self and perceived in the partner was linked to an increased probability of experiencing sexual coercion and psychological abuse. Avoidant attachment was linked to higher withdrawal in conflict situations, but the paths from withdrawal to perceived partner engagement, sexual coercion, and psychological abuse were non-significant. No gender differences in the associations were found. The discussion highlights the role of anxious attachment in understanding escalating patterns of destructive conflict resolution strategies, which may increase the vulnerability to IPV victimization.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author details:Helena BonacheORCiD, Rosaura Gonzalez-MendezORCiD, Barbara KraheORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260516640776
ISSN:0886-2605
ISSN:1552-6518
Pubmed ID:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=27036152
Title of parent work (English):Journal of interpersonal violence : concerned with the study and treatment of victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence
Publisher:Sage Publ.
Place of publishing:Thousand Oaks
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2016/04/01
Completion year:2019
Release date:2021/06/03
Tag:attachment styles; conflict resolution; intimate partner violence; psychological abuse; sexual coercion
Volume:34
Issue:2
Page number:23
First page:287
Last Page:309
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften / Department Psychologie
DDC classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Peer review:Referiert
Publishing method:Open Access / Green Open-Access
External remark:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 405