Attachment-style differences in intimacy and involvement: A test of the four-category model

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This study tested the hypothesis that individuals with different attachment styles vary in the degree to which they display intimacy and nonverbal involvement to their romantic partners. Eighty dyads currently involved in enduring romantic relationships participated in an observational study, with one partner from each dyad representing one of Bartholomew 's (1990) four attachment styles. A team of coders viewed videotapes of the dyads' conversations and rated the degree of intimacy and involvement exhibited. Preoccupieds and Secures surpassed Dismissives and Fearful Avoidants on measures of trust/receptivity, gaze, facial pleasantness, vocal pleasantness, general interest, and attentiveness. Preoccupieds engaged in more in-depth conversation than Dismissives. Fearful Avoidants sat furthest from their partners and displayed the least fluency and longest response latencies. Finally, Preoccupieds and Fearful Avoidants were the most vocally anxious. These findings, which provide preliminary behavioral validation of Bartholomew's four-category model of attachment, are interpreted in light of the dimensions underlying attachment styles and the principle that communication reinforces mental models of self and others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-292
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Attachment style
  • Intimacy
  • Involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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