Adult attachment in a nationally representative sample

Kristin D. Mickelson, Ronald C. Kessler, Phillip R. Shaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

639 Scopus citations


The explosion of adult attachment research in the last decade has been limited by its reliance on college student and distressed samples. Using a large nationally representative sample of American adults, the authors examined the relation of sociodemographics, childhood adversity, parental representations, adult psychopathology, and personality traits to adult attachment in an effort to replicate previous findings and extend the theory. Distribution of adult attachment styles was similar to that in prior studies: 59% secure, 25% avoidant, and 11% anxious. Adult attachment was associated with several sociodemographic variables (e.g., income, age, race) not previously studied. Childhood adversities of an interpersonal nature were strongly related to insecure adult attachment. Various types of adult psychopathologies and personality traits were also strongly related to adult attachment. Implications for adult attachment theory and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1092-1106
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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