Attachment-Style Differences in Attitudes toward and Reactions to Feedback from Romantic Partners: An Exploration of the Relational Bases of Self-Esteem

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The authors examined attachment-style differences in reliance on partner feedback to maintain self-esteem. First, they argue that those people who value relational sources of self-esteem are more open to and affected by partner feedback than those people who derive self-esteem from competence-based sources; these differences correspond to working models of self and others. Results revealed that individuals with negative other-models are relatively averse to partner feedback, and individuals with negative self-models are distressed by feedback. Second, the authors propose that, for some, partner feedback serves as a mechanism for maintaining global self-esteem; for others, feedback is irrelevant to self-esteem. Results confirmed that the association of attachment with self-esteem is fully mediated by sources of self-esteem and partially mediated by attitudes about and reactions to partner feedback. The authors discuss their results in terms of their implications for understanding relational bases of self esteem as well as working models.

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 24, issue 7, p. 699-714