Attachment Theory: A Communication Perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, Laura K. Guerrero highlights the critical role communication plays in attachment theory. After tracing the origins of attachment theory, the she focuses on how attachment styles function within adult relationships. Key ideas within the theory, such as models of self and others, are described, as are four attachment styles in adults: secure, preoccupied, dismissive, and fearful. Communication is then discussed as a cause and consequence of attachment, as a mediating variable that explains why people with different attachment styles tend to vary in relationship satisfaction, and as force that reinforces people’s attachment styles by eliciting specific reactions from others. Attachment-style differences in maintenance behavior, conflict behavior, expressions of intimacy and affection, and emotional expression are summarized. Guerrero also gives advice about how to increase attachment security. Attachment theory is evaluated as high in scope, parsimony, and utility; especially high in heuristic value; and fairly high in testability. New trends in attachment theory include seeing how communication by one partner can change the other partner’s attachment style over time, determining how genetics interact with attachment, and discovering how attachment influences cell phone and social media communication, including sexting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEngaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication
Subtitle of host publicationMultiple Perspectives, 3rd Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000457018
ISBN (Print)9780367425296
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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