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Hazan and Shaver

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Hazan and Shaver

Do you feel comfortable around other people and can trust them easily? Or do you find it challenging to connect with them? These are some of the questions you would have to answer if you stumbled across Hazan and Shaver’s ‘love quiz’ in American newspapers in 1987. However, you would not have been aware that you had played a role in one of the most famous studies of attachment theory. Why was that? And what were its findings? Let us get to the bottom of it.

Let’s first recall what attachment theory is.

Attachment theory is a concept in developmental psychology about the importance of attachments for personal development. Children, in particular, need a secure attachment to a primary caregiver to feel safe and explore the world around them, which is essential for normal social and emotional development.

Ainsworth (1978) identified three attachment types in children: secure, insecure-anxious, and insecure-avoidant.

Bowlby (1969) proposed that a child’s attachment to their caregiver forms a mental representation of how relationships work. This internal working model is a template for future relationships, known as the continuity hypothesis.

A child who has experienced secure attachment to their caregivers will believe adult relationships should operate in the same safe manner.

Hazan and Shaver (1987) attachment theory

Early on, attachment theory focused on and studied children primarily. Hazan and Shaver (1987) extended attachment theory to adult romantic relationships. Their study examined whether romantic relationships are also an attachment process between a couple, just like the attachments between an infant and their caregiver.

They placed an ad in a newspaper asking people to participate in a ‘love quiz’. Two samples were tested:

  • First sample: 205 men and 412 women between the ages of 14 and 82.
  • Second sample: 108 students, 38 men and 70 women.

Participants had to complete two questionnaires. The first was a choice of three descriptions of what they thought best described their romantic relationship styles. The researchers classified the responses according to AinAinsworth’stachment styles.

These were:

A. I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, others want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being. (Insecure-avoidant attachment type).

B. I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me. (Secure attachment type).

C. I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me or won’t want stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away. (Insecure-resistant attachment type).

Participants also completed a questionnaire about their childhood relationships with their parents.

Findings

These were the findings of the study:

  • Secure types: Research classified 56% of respondents as secure. They were more likely to have balanced and longer-lasting romantic relationships. They described their romantic relationships as positive, happy, friendly, and trusting.
  • Insecure-resistant types: 19% of the insecure-resistant types reported they experienced love as a compulsive commitment. They constantly worried about their partner’s love because they feared they would abandon them.
  • Insecure-avoidant types: 25% of avoidant-insecure people were afraid of closeness and did not believe they needed to love to be happy.

Hazan and Shaver found that the prevalence (proportion of the general population) of the three attachment styles was the same in adulthood as in childhood. In addition, the results supported the concept that the internal working model has a lifelong effect, i.e., our attachment style in childhood predicts our romantic relationship style in adulthood. However, they acknowledged that not all people remained true to their childhood attachment style and changed throughout their lives.

Evaluation of Hazan and Shaver (1987)

Lastly, let us evaluate Hazan and Shaver’s 1987 study by examining its strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Both men and women participated in the study.
  • The study supports BowBowlby’seory that relationships in childhood influence relationships in adulthood (continuity hypothesis).
  • McaMcarthy’s999) study supports the evidence for the influence of early attachments on future relationships. He conducted a study with 40 women of adult age who shared information about their childhood, which helped determine their early attachment styles in the study. Women with secure attachments in childhood rated their romantic relationships more positively than women with insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant attachment styles.
  • Feeney and Noller (1992) studied university students in relationships. They found that those with insecure-avoidant attachment styles were the most likely to engage in a breakup. However, attachment styles also changed as the relationship progressed to a firmer and more stable level.

Weaknesses

  • Hazan and ShaShaver’sudy may have some problems regarding its validity. Their questionnaire depends on the honesty and realistic views of the respondents when disclosing their experiences about their relationship with their parents in childhood.
  • Also, the accuracy of the answers could be a problem since they rely on the participants’ memories. As a result, these factors could compromise the study results due to the lack of evidence to support the internal working model.
  • The researchers conducted the study with an exclusively American population and therefore could be ethnocentric.
  • The study relied on self-report, so participants may not have been sincere because they wanted to sound socially desirable.
  • Clarke and Clarke (1998) described the influence of early childhood attachment on later relationships as a probability but not a certainty. People should not be judged for having bad relationships because they already have attachment problems. The determinism that comes with this statement could significantly impact them and cause them more suffering. So if we overemphasise the risk, we become too pessimistic about people’s future.

Hazan and Shaver - Key takeaways

  • Internal working models are the mental representation of our attachment to our primary caregiver. They are essential for our future relationships because they convey our idea of what relationships are like.

  • Bowlby (1969) suggested that when a child has their first relationship with their primary caregiver, they form a mental representation of that relationship.

  • Hazan and Shaver (1987) examined the application of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships and designed a ‘love quiz’.

  • They found that people with secure attachment types had more balanced and longer-lasting romantic relationships.

  • The prevalence (proportion of the general population) of the three attachment styles (secure, insecure-resistant, insecure-avoidant) was the same in adulthood as in childhood. Moreover, the results suggest that our attachment style in childhood predicts our romantic relationship style in adulthood.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hazan and Shaver

Bowlby (1969) proposed that a child’s attachment to their caregiver forms a mental representation of how relationships work. This internal working model is a template for future relationships, known as the continuity hypothesis.

The four types are secure, insecure-anxious, insecure-avoidant, and disorganised.

Hazan and Shaver conducted their research by asking participants to complete two questionnaires. Out of three passages, they had to choose one passage that best described their romantic relationship style. The second questionnaire was about their childhood relationships with their parents.

Hazan and Shaver suggested that our attachment style in childhood predicts our romantic relationship style in adulthood. However, they acknowledged that not all people remained true to their childhood attachment style and changed throughout their lives.

Final Hazan and Shaver Quiz

Question

What are the internal working models?

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Answer

Internal working models are the mental representation we all carry of our attachment to our primary caregiver. They affect our future relationships because they convey our idea of relationships. 

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Question

How did Bowlby relate the first relationship of a child to future relationships?

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Answer

Bowlby suggested a child has their first relationship with their primary caregiver. It forms a mental representation of this relationship; this internal working model will function as a model for future relationships.

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How were attachment studies used at the beginning of its application?

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Answer

Early on, the context of attachment applied to children was studied in the field of developmental psychology.

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Who has related the model to romantic relationships in adulthood?

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Answer

The concept was extended to adulthood, and Hazan and Shaver extended the attachment theory on adult relationships.


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How did Hazan and Shaver understand the application of attachment theory in romantic relationships?




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Answer

Hazan and Shaver conducted research to understand the application of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships.

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When did Hazan and Shaver conduct the research to understand the applications of attachment theory in romantic relationships?


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Answer

In 1987.

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Question

What was the Hazan and Shaver model when conducting their research?

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Answer

Hazan and Shaver designed a ‘love quiz’.

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What were the three aspects of intimate relationships the quiz identified?

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Answer

The love quiz identified three aspects of intimate relationships: essential relationships, general love experiences, and attachment styles.

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Where were the love quizzes applied?

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Answer

The love quiz was printed and applied in a local American newspaper.

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What do secure lovers believe concerning long-term relationships?

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Answer

Secure lovers believed that love would never diminish.

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Which kind of relationship did secure lovers establish around their caregivers?

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Answer

Secure lovers had warmer relationships with parents during childhood.

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How did insecure-avoidant feel about their partners?

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Answer

Avoidant lovers were frequently uncertain about their feelings concerning their partners.

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Did insecure-avoidant people report falling in love?

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Answer

Yes, but they also reported feeling challenged to fall in love.

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How did insecure-resistant lovers detail their relationships?

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Answer

Insecure resistant or ambivalent lovers describe their most significant romantic relationships as obsessive, aiming for mutual feelings, emotional instability, intense sexual attractiveness, and jealousy.

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