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Friedman et al., (2010)

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32 Comments to “Friedman et al., (2010)”
  1. Sophie Schiff says:

    I found this week’s article to be very interesting in evaluating cultural differences in how attachment style influences relationship outcomes. However, the limitation raised by the authors regarding the lack of partner reports particularly stuck out to me. It seems quite strange to assess relationships from the perspective of only one member of the relationship, particularly when looking at relationship outcomes. Relationships are complicated and are intrinsically influenced by both members of the dyad. I was further interested in this question after reading the Eisenkraft et al., paper which identified significant partner effects in affective states. As a follow up to the limitation in the Friedman paper, I sought out further similar research on attachment style’s influence on relationship outcomes that incorporated information about the partner.

    In one article that I found, Molero et al., investigated the influence of attachment style on relationship satisfaction through the lens of the actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) that we discussed earlier in the semester. Although this article did not directly address the specific cultural piece that is so interesting from the Friedman et al., paper, I do think this study provides some valuable insight into other factors that are relevant when studying romantic relationships. In this article, Molero, et al., conducted a study of 148 heterosexual couples who evaluated their own attachment styles as we well as their partner’s attachment styles and how these two variables factor into relationship satisfaction. This study was conducted in Spain (which is seen as more collectivistic) and thus only reflects one culture, but I think the findings are helping in more accurately portraying the dynamic of attachment style and relationship outcomes.

    Molero et al., found high agreement between actor/partner ratings of each other’s avoidance. They also found significant negative associations between self-rated avoidance and perceived partner avoidance with relationship satisfaction. This association between perceived partner avoidance and relationship satisfaction makes intuitive sense to me: if you think your partner has a more avoidant style, you may feel less satisfaction. Returning to the Friedman article (which is cited in the Molero paper), it would be interesting to explore cultural differences in how an actor’s perception of an partner’s attachment style might play into the effects on the relationship outcomes. Relationship are defined by the presence of two individuals, and thus the Friedman et al., paper is only providing half of the story and I think exploring cultural differences in how attachment style impacts relationship outcomes in accordance with the APIM model would be a really fascinating follow up study.

    Reference: Molero, F., Shaver, P. R., Fernandez, I., ALONSO‐ARBIOL, I. T. Z. I. A. R., & Recio, P. (2016). Long‐term partners’ relationship satisfaction and their perceptions of each other’s attachment insecurities. Personal Relationships, 23(1), 159-171.

    • Gregory Rosen says:

      Hi Sophie, Thank you for the clearly written and thought-provoking comment. For your idea of exploring actor’s perception of partner’s attachment style, do you think it would be practical to add a third party observer to judge the relationship dynamic, i.e., videotaped interactions for divorce prediction by John Gottman? Also, in what ways might divorce demography be influenced or uninfluenced by attachment style/relationship satisfaction? Finally, what real-world applications can you think of for the follow-up study you suggested?

  2. Dakota Egglefield says:

    This article has strong findings regarding the cultural universality of adult relationship attachment styles. However, there were a few limitations I would have liked to see addressed more clearly.

    The authors note the limitation of their study regarding the absence of discriminant validity included in this study. While reading the article, I continued to wonder about how Big 5 traits might play a role in the avoidant or anxious attachment styles. It seems like low agreeableness may contribute to an avoidant attachment style especially in regard to intimate relationships and perhaps also contribute to the amount of relationship conflict endorsed by the participants. Additionally, agreeableness as well as traits like neuroticism or openness to experience (the least universally validated, especially in collectivist cultures, so this could have posed other problems) could have either mediated or moderated the relationship shown between avoidance and relationship satisfaction in all three societies. Considering the fact that the Big 5 has been validated and translated into many different cultures, as well as its ease of administration, I am curious as to why they did not include this self-report measure in their study and analyses.

    I liked that the authors mentioned their concern regarding response sets, stating that individuals from Eastern cultures may be less likely to use extreme endpoints of the Likert-type scales. I was also pondering, specifically regarding the conflict scale, whether participants from collectivist cultures may be less likely to answer questions on this scale in a truthful manner, due to their emphasis on interindividual relationships. However, it was shown that collectivist cultures actually endorsed higher levels of conflict than the US. I interpreted this positively in that even students from collectivist cultures were not responding in a socially desirable way (i.e., misrepresenting the amount of conflict in their relationships) and thus makes this study more reliable and valid.

    One last issue I had with the study was that the authors claim that the study confirms the importance of studying consequences of secure versus insecure attachment orientations on relationships. While this was not an experimental study, and thus not warranting a control group per se, I would have liked to see a comparison group of those with secure attachment styles in relationships. Based off of empirical research and working knowledge of attachment theory, one might assume that those who have secure attachment orientations would indicate having more relationship satisfaction, more social support from their partners, perhaps longer relationship length, and maybe less conflict than those with avoidant or anxious relationship orientations. I believe that having a comparison group of this nature could only have strengthened the results of this study, and if that was not the case it certainly would have brought up some operationalization issues regarding the universality of these attachment styles across cultures.

    • Shira Russell-Giller says:

      Dakota, I complete agree with you that a big limitation of this study was the lack of some sort of comparison group. In particular, I would have liked to see the reported relationship satisfaction from individuals with interdependent attachment styles across cultures to directly compare those outcomes with those of the people with avoidant attachment styles. Assuming that an interdependent attachment style leads to increased relationship satisfaction, (which is a logical assumption based on the findings of this study) I wonder whether culture would also influence the degree to which interdependent attachment style and relationship satisfaction are related?

    • drcb says:

      You speculate correctly that attachment avoidance corresponds to low A and E, and attachment anxiety positively correlates with N.

      Also, a point of clarification that low anxiety and low avoidance = security, so secure attachment was in fact represented in this study.

  3. Shira Russell-Giller says:

    The cultural role in the outcomes of avoidant romantic attachment style is brought to light by Friedman, et al.’s 2010 cross-cultural study. Specifically, heterosexual relationships in collectivist cultures (identified as Hong Kong and Mexico in this study) have lower relationship satisfaction than individualist cultures (the US in this study) when they have an avoidant attachment style relationships. I appreciated that the authors addressed potential reasons for why this is. One of their ideas, which I thought was astute, was that individuals in collectivist cultures have expectations for their relationships to be more interdependent, so an individual who has an avoidant romantic attachment style would fail to meet these expectations for his/herself or the people around them, thereby leading to overall dissatisfaction.

    Although anxiety was an inconsistent variable in this study, it is interesting that an exploratory analysis revealed that attachment anxiety was more strongly (negatively) related to relationship satisfaction in the collectivist cultures than in the US. The authors themselves admit that they are not sure why this is and although further research needs to be conducted to test potential hypothesis, I want to touch upon some possible explanations. My first thought is that attachment anxiety may simple be a byproduct of the incongruity between attachment avoidant relationship style and a collectivist culture. Since attachment avoidant style and collectivism hold conflicting values, this not only decreases relationship satisfaction, but also creates greater anxiety revolving around relationships in general. This possibility is in line with the authors’ finding of the collectivist cultures having greater overall attachment anxiety than the US.

    I had a second thought regarding an alternative possibility that may explain the greater negative relationship between attachment anxiety and relationship satisfaction in Hong Kong and Mexico than in the US. Perhaps people experiencing attachment anxiety in collectivist cultures attribute their anxiety more directly to the relationship itself than people in individualistic cultures. In other words, people with attachment anxiety in collectivist cultures might externalize their anxiety more while people in individualistic cultures might internalize their attachment anxiety. Individualistic people may see their attachment anxiety primarily as a deficit within themselves, so they still maintain better relationship satisfaction. On the other hand, collectivist people may see their attachment anxiety as a direct result of the shortcomings in their relationship, so they will report worse relationship satisfaction.

    • drcb says:

      “collectivist people may see their attachment anxiety as a direct result of the shortcomings in their relationship, so they will report worse relationship satisfaction”

      That’s a good potential explanation, especially if they’re more relationship-oriented in collectivist cultures.

  4. Dakota Egglefield says:

    Hi Shira,

    I appreciated your comments about anxious attachment because I had some thoughts regarding this stronger negative relationship with collectivist cultures as well, one of which nicely ties into your second theory regarding the internalization of anxiety in the US. In various other classes we have talked about how, at least in the US, anxiety is much more accepted by others (partners, bosses, etc) than depression, due to the fact that anxiety is thought to be “future-driven” and often subclinincally seen as linked with productivity. Perhaps this somewhat more positive view of anxiety in an independent culture contributes to the lesser negative relationship between anxious attachment in relationships and relationship dissatisfaction in the US.

  5. Sunghee Kim says:

    It was a very interesting article and I really enjoyed reading it but I got a few questions which I will address them later on. The study had different cultures to define cultural differences in a romantic relationship. I just wonder, even though Hong Kong was one of the least individualistic countries but was Hong Kong a representative sample of the collectivist culture? I just hoped there were more countries besides Mexico, Hong Kong, and the United States to make better comparisons. On pg.109, “Compared with Western cultures, relationships, loyalty and less on romantic love”, I couldn’t find any evidence on this. Maybe I couldn’t find from the article but if not, it would be nicer how they came up the conclusion. All the questionnaires were written in English then translated into Spanish and Chinese, then translated once again into English. There would be any possibility of jingle/jungle problems? All the participants were in a relationship during the study at least for three months; I personally thought it was not long enough to determine a relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, investments, and commitments. Why not five months or 1-year commitment? On pg.120, it showed that relationship length was correlated with the amount of conflict and the amount of investment in relationships. It explained that a person who was in a romantic relationship for one year could give more commitments compared to a person who was in a relationship for four months.
    Overall, the results were shown that high levels of avoidance correlated with negative relationship outcomes. I personally (as an Asian) thought Eastern culture did have high levels of avoidance because they tend to escape from any conflicts and they do not want to make a big scene out of it. Sometimes, Eastern culture societies concern more about others’ viewpoints so they prefer not to open up their problems but they tend to hide and it leads to more conflict situations.

    • Bengi says:

      Thank you for this comment, Sunghee. I agree with you that the duration of relationship as at least three months felt a little too shaky a foundation, especially regarding how young the people in the sample were. Regarding your point on their finding about the correlation between the length of the relationship and the amount of conflict and the amount of investment, I was thinking about how they came to form these variables and categorize them completely distinct from one another.

  6. Sara Babad says:

    I think this article is an interesting perspective on cultural differences in avoidant attachment. Some of my methodological concerns about the article mirror those of my classmates. Firstly, I wonder if the measures they used that were translated and back-translated are reliable and valid. True, they found adequate reliability within their own sample but translating a measure does not mean that it actually measures the same things across cultures. Furthermore, the authors used a number of questions to determine conflict in the current relationship, which I thought was woefully inadequate psychometrically. There is no indication that the set of questions the authors asked actually measures relationship conflict. And there are other measures they could have used. The Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS; Straus, 1979) is a well-used and valid measure of conflict perpetrated by an individual and by the individual’s partner. I also wondered why the authors did not generate specific hypotheses regarding anxious attachment. I understand that they want to look at incongruity between collectivist cultures and a conceptual opposite, avoidance of close, inter-dependent relationships, but they mention anxious attachment so many times, I almost wonder if they refrained from generating hypotheses because the results were, post-facto, not as clean as the avoidant attachment date. But that’s just the skeptic in me. Also, similar to Sophie’s comment, as I read the article, I was particularly curious about partner effects. This is especially interesting in the context of this article because avoidantly and anxiously attached individuals may attract specific personality profiles that can create interactions that would be interesting to explore. I also wondered about their sampling process. Subjects from all countries/cultures were drawn from college student populations. We know that college students can present very differently than their non-college attending peers. They are likely to be higher functioning and have more available resources. Meaning, they may be just as likely as their non-college attending peers to have pathology but if they are able to function in college, they are likely using strategies that are working (i.e., more functional). I wonder if the findings of this study would generalize to non-college attending adults…

    Beyond these methodological concerns, the article raised many interesting questions. The authors found higher levels of relationship investment in the US vs more collectivist cultures. I would have thought that cultures that value interdependence would invest more in relationships, but here that was not the case. Perhaps this has something to do with the benefits of maintaining independence within a relationship, not just for the individual but also for the relationship itself. My thoughts here may be colored by my Western cultural values, but I wonder if being highly inter-dependent in relationships is actually more harmful to the relationship and leads people (even those who are not avoidantly attached) to pull away. I was also struck by the finding that avoidant attachment was higher in both Hong Kong and Mexico vs the United States. Avoidant attachment is often linked to trauma history as a child and I wonder if that may play a role here as well. Specifically, emotional neglect is generally strongly associated with a range of negative outcomes in adulthood. I wonder if more collectivist cultures that, like the authors state, tend to value obedience to elders, may therefore minimize the child’s emotional states. Doing so may, for some children, constitute emotional neglect which might explain higher rates of avoidant attachment. I would imagine, though, that this environment would have to interact with a pre-existing temperament or disposition. A child growing up in Hong Kong who is very sensitive may not respond optimally to a culture that values obedience over personal expression and validation. But a child who has a more easy-going temperament may not react the same way. I would want to develop a study that takes childhood maltreatment in to account so that we can determine whether this is confounding the current findings regarding cultural differences.

    Straus, M.A. (1979). “Measuring Intrafamily Conflict and Violence: The Conflict Tactics (CT) scales.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41, 75-88.

    • Katherine Chang says:

      I was also curious about the higher investment level of the US as compared to HK and Mexico. Aside from the relationships with avoidant relationships styles (it follows the trend), I wonder if a possible explanation is the emphasis the US puts on romantic relationships and “happily ever after.” Growing up with Disney and how love is portrayed in movies, I wonder if this reinforces investment level in the US. Alternatively, I would imagine someone would invest in a relationship that works well compared to one that they are dissatisfied with. So if HK and Mexico have greater dissatisfaction in their relationships, it could also make sense that the investment level might be lower.

      I’m also in agreement with Sara on the possible reason why there was an increased prevalence of avoidant attachment in collectivist societies. In Chinese culture, obedience is definitely emphasized and “knowing your place” is most important for the social harmony the authors cited before. We learned about the interaction between temperament and parenting- for individuals that may not fit into this obedience, it seems possible that their environment might have lead to avoidant style attachment.

  7. Katherine Chang says:

    The hypotheses in the study made logical sense to me so I wasn’t too surprised when they were confirmed with the main findings. However, when discussing their limitations, I was really surprised they didn’t add a measure of personality traits to be able to factor in those possible effects. A measure of personality traits seems to be easy to administer by self-report. Subsequently, I find it difficult to fully accept/agree with the results knowing that personality traits might have an effect—it’s hard to say how large. I appreciate that they are aware that including the partner of the participant would have provided valuable information. It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between attachment styles—I remember reading that anxious attachment styles tend to attract avoidant attachment styles ( It would be interesting to factor this in and considering the interaction between partners as a contributing variable. Would there be a difference between “avoidant x secure relationships” and “avoidant x anxious relationships”?

    There was something else that stood out to me about their interpretation about collectivist societies (particularly East Asian) and the importance of relational closeness and harmony. They posit that the foundation of relationships in Chinese culture is strong “other orientation” – attending to and responding to the needs and wishes of others. I believe there is a slightly misinterpretation and would argue that this focus could actually more between parents and children than romantic partners (referring to filial piety). Moreover, the authors cite Confucianism to interpret the relationships to promote social harmony but they fail to understand the underlying theory of this. Social harmony results because each individual knows “his or her place” in the natural order and plays the role well. In Confucianism, there are 5 key relationships: (1) ruler and subject, (2) father and son, (3) elder brother and younger brother, (4) husband and wife, and (5) friend and friend. In all of these relationships, there is an authority over each other except between friends. Power and superiority belong to the older person or to the man over woman (Chinese culture is very patriarchal) and every person has to respect the superiority (knowing their place). I’m not sure how this concept plays in to avoidant attachment and relationship satisfaction or if it would change the results in the present study. I just wanted to point out the nuance that the authors seem to misunderstand.

    • Scott Ewing says:

      Awesome, thanks for this, Kathy. Your commentary kinda helps me make sense of my thoughts on Sara’s question above (why the US is less collectivist but shows higher investment in romantic relationships). The article seems to depict “collectivism” as warm, loving togetherness, when really it might be based more strongly in loyalty and respect. I don’t have a source for this, but in the Diversity Issues class that my classmates and I took in the clinical program, it was discussed that on average, people in Eastern cultures tend to be more reserved and less emotionally expressive (which can be a challenge in therapy). If we’re very literal in the interpretation of ‘investment’, I can understand why those from the US report that they give more of themselves in a relationship to cultivate it, even though in many ways they may be more individualistic.

    • Shanna Razak says:

      Pointing out the misinterpretation with Confucian’s belief was definitely interesting. One other thing I didn’t understand about this research was the relationship between a collectivist society and attachment style. I expected the attachment avoidance style to negatively affect a relationship in both collectivist and individualistic societies. When studying collectivist and individualist societies looking at family value and how it affects the relationship might have been a better viewpoint to look at instead although that may be more of sociology project than psychology. However I see the romantic relationship as more of a single unit ( more of an individual). When it accounts for families of the romantic partners it is collectivist.

  8. Ariel Zucker says:

    For a study looking at attachment avoidance, I’m surprised that this study excluded participants who are not in a relationship for a minimum of three months. One would imagine that individuals with the most extreme level of attachment avoidance might choose to not be in relationships or have a series of failed relationships. I’d be curious to know if these individuals (i.e., individuals with the highest level of attachment avoidance) would significantly differ cross-culturally on relationship outcome measures.

    Let’s take, for example, Person 1 who has high attachment avoidance and is in a year-long relationship. Now, let’s take, Person 2 who has high attachment avoidance to the point that he/she chooses to avoid relationship commitments completely. Let’s now consider someone like Person 2 in collectivist society (Person 2c) and Person 2 in an individualistic society (Person 2i). Considering Person 2 is on the most extreme end of attachment avoidance, it is likely that Person 2c and Person 2i’s behaviors and experiences towards relationships might not differ much in their respective cultures. Given the exclusionary criteria of this study, Person 2 would not be included in this sample. I consider this to be a significant flaw in this study, especially considering the researchers aren’t including the most extreme individuals in their sample of interest.

    I also understand that a major limitation of my suggestion is that you can’t measure “relationship conflict” or “investment”, for example, without actually being in a relationship. That being said, it might be interesting to include this sample of individuals and have them complete more measures relating to relationships more broadly (i.e., with parents, friends, or other relatives) as well as anxiety, etc. While these relationships are certainly not the same as romantic relationships, I believe that including this sample might provide valuable information about the extent to which this “cultural fit” hypothesis applies. More specifically, I’m suggesting the “cultural fit” hypothesis might not apply to the most extreme spectrum of attachment avoidant individuals.

    • Chen Tiferet-Dweck says:

      Ariel thank you for sharing this, I enjoyed reading your post. Regarding your last point, it’s true that including more broadly relationships can improve external validity, however, I do not think the effect of avoidance will be strong enough when it is measured in relationships that are not romantic. Therefore, I think expanding this experiment to broader relationships might reduce the statistical conclusion validity.

    • Minjung Park says:

      Hi, Ariel. First, thank you for sharing your idea. I think the examples that you made gave me an abundant understanding and insight. Besides, I think that if researchers have broad and various samples, they might have better and critic results than the results the researchers found with fewer samples. In this regard, I agree with your point that measuring samples broadly including parents, friends, or other relatives might have different and valuable information about the “cultural fit.” Also, while I was reading the articles, I want to know how excluding the relationships which are less than three months is differ than including this condition. They might have some critical relationship between the two conditions.

    • victoria Fairchild says:

      Ariel, you make a really great point about considering the full spectrum of avoidant behavior and a broader spectrum of relationships. Especially in the current social climate, it is possible that some people, (likely those that have a more avoidant or anxious attachment style) may have intimate relationships for lengths of time that they would not report as being committed “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationships, despite seeing the person regularly and/or being invested in that relationship. These individuals may provide interesting insight into more highly avoidantly attached individuals and how they function in their culture.

    • Sara Babad says:

      Ariel, you make a great point! Those who are highly avoidant are often adept at eschewing relationships altogether. Or, if they do have relationships, they can be unstable and short-lived. Someone that highly avoidant might also be experiencing more severe psychopathology, (let’s say), which would only complicate things… To speak to Chen’s point, though, I think that it is possible to measure avoidant attachment in non-romantic relationships. Attachment is the relational style that develops in response to the repeated interactions that a child has with the parent. And although attachment can differ between individuals and contexts of relationships, there is evidence to suggest that people do tend to have a general attachment style. In fact, the Experiences in Close Relationships questionnaire that is used in this study has been adapted to be used in regards to a person’s general attachment to others. For example, it would be unlikely for someone to be highly anxiously attached to friends but highly avoidantly attached to their significant other. There is usually a common thread in a person’s interactional styles, perhaps to different degrees. So perhaps it would be possible to have a “control group” of subjects who are avoidantly attached but not in a relationship…

  9. Victoria Fairchild says:

    I thought this study was a very interesting look at attachment theory and how it might interact with other cultural norms. I do think that it would have been interesting to look at other forms of outcomes besides relationship satisfaction and conflict frequency, such as health behaviors or depression scores to try to determine if attachment styles abroad beget similar outcomes as those in the US.

    Additionally, I would have liked to know more about their conflict rating scale. For the purposes of an outcome measure, it might have been useful to employ a more common (and less vague) scale to measure conflict within the romantic relationship, such as the Conflict Tactics Scale. The example provided of their scale, “How often do you and your partner experience conflict?”, is open ended and can be interpreted in a myriad of ways that may not capture the conflict frequency or severity within a relationship. This may be especially true of the male dominated/female-submissive cultures that may conceptualize “conflict” in its various forms very differently than researchers in this one. Participants may also be more hesitant to disclose frequency or severity of conflict without specific prompting.

    I also found the results of the anxiously attached participants interesting, though I did think that the authors may have benefitted from making a clear hypothesis about that groups results, as they were very clearly involved in each part of the study, analysis, results and discussion. Their lack of clear hypothesis regarding anxiety may stem from a limitation they acknowledge in the discussion, namely that cultural norms, especially interpersonal interaction norms and child-rearing differences in Latino, American, and Asian cultures likely play a large role in attachment outcomes. In Latino culture physical and verbal expressions of emotion are more commonplace. American culture tends to be permissive and ego-centric. Certain behaviors characteristic of anxious attachment such as emotional reactivity may be more permitted within some cultures, but their ego-centrism is not compatible with that same culture, and vice versa. These cultural qualities may help to explain some of the convoluted and less conclusive findings regarding anxiously attached people.

    • Ariel Zucker says:

      Victoria – I appreciate your comment regarding the conflict rating scale. Because this is a study looking at outcome measures cross-culturally, it is important to take into consideration how different cultures might interpret the questions on the measures differently. It is possible that the conflict rating scale might actually be measuring different constructs depending on how the individuals in each distinct culture interpret the questions.

  10. Shanna Razak says:

    In the paper, it was hypothesized that avoidance would be an issue for relationships in collectivist societies (such as Hong Kong and Mexico). In a collectivist society, the focus is on a group rather than the individual. This means that in a relationship one may be expected to break free from certain individualistic behaviors in order for the relationship to be successful. However, with the attachment style of avoidance, these individuals would rather remain in a situation or mindset which they only have to worry about themselves. Since this is so they may also worry less about their partner.
    In the discussion of the article, it goes on to speak about why avoidance may cause pressure on the relationship. One possible explanation that I found very interesting was that partners of those who are avoidant may want self-disclosure. In other words, they may want their partner to discuss deep thoughts or concerns they have( as any relationship would). With this, I pictured a brick wall between the partners ( avoidance attachment style being the wall) preventing the partners from sharing. This lack of intimacy and emotional distance may cause a partner to feel unwanted.
    Now coming from my personal research interests in disclosure of sexual assault, I wonder if there is a difference in disclosure recipient in those whose attachment style is avoidance. In other words, I wonder if extreme situations of trauma will affect rates of disclosure to a romantic partner.

    • Sunghee Kim says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shanna. I personally thought avoidance would be an issue for relationships in collectivist societies because group members thoughts are more valued than an individual’s thought as you mentioned. From my personal experience, I never saw my parents fought when I was little because they thought to show parents fighting would give a bad influence to the family itself and they got scared to have a bad reputation. I think that it could be an example of “avoidance”, not having a fight rather refusing the fight itself. And another thing you mentioned regarding self-disclosure. I think a person with avoidant trait showing their feelings by using avoidant. Not talking, ignoring the conversation would be the one way to express themselves which is not a very expressive way but a silent way.

      • drcb says:

        (an example of “avoidance”, not having a fight rather refusing the fight itself. And another thing you mentioned regarding self-disclosure)

        This is a good example of how avoidance can be (sort of) beneficial.

  11. Bengi says:

    I was intrigued by the implication of the cultural fit hypothesis regarding the impact of attachment avoidance on relationship outcomes and wanted to see where the authors go from the conception of individualistic and collectivistic cultures in relation to that. The countries exemplified here contain a broad variety of collectivistic as well as individualistic structures – maybe from the perspective of averages and large groups it makes sense, but it doesn’t really look into the specific cases that would explain one’s discomfort with attachment avoidance in the US. I think the way they bring in cultural differences to the research of individual differences ironically shades the in-depth understanding of individual differences within cultures. Also, after reading about our chapter on attachment that underlined the elements of emotional closeness and interdependence that this article mentioned as basic needs that exist throughout all human beings that needs to be nurtured, and knowing about the mental health problems that are on very large levels in the Western society with roots that tie to attachment, I am not completely convinced that people do not place emphasis on these values but are rather adapting themselves to real or perceived absence of these. Even when they are less emphasized in individualistic societies, it doesn’t mean that people in individualistic societies would fare better with avoidant attachment style. Another point that caught my attention is the ages of the students in their sample, especially the students from the US having a mean age around 19 and from Mexico being 23. I find age 19 is not to be an indicator of the latter attachment orientation in romantic relationships for it is too early, and 23 is also tricky for it is full of transitions related to finishing college, getting a job, moving and so on. This is important not only for that these ages suggest that we are talking about something that will change overtime, but also to suggest that situations are very important in playing into romantic attachment orientations. The authors controlled for age but I’m thinking of to what extent age might factor into the way people perceive, approach and enact attachments, from a more cognitive and dynamic point of view.

    • Sergiu Barcaci says:

      Hi Bengi, I also found the ages to be somewhat too early, especially in regards to maturity at age 19. At that age, conflict can also arise over very mundane, trivial things which to them it means a lot and is worth reporting but for someone older and more mature, it won’t really have an impact on their relationship and thus won’t be reported. This could also skew the conflict reporting when using such a vague, broad scale. Personally, I feel that 23 was a better age because while there are definitely major transitions going on around that age, you’re overall more mature and more likely to take relationships seriously than someone who’s 19. Ages around 26-28 I feel would have been better as at that point you’re most likely somewhat settled in life and relationships and attachments and be measured more accurately.

    • Sophie Schiff says:

      I think your comments on the age of the sample are really interesting, especially in the context of our discussion from the Bleidorn et al., article and social investment theory from earlier in the semester. Perhaps beyond collectivist vs. individualistic differences in culture, there are other important factors to consider as far as cultural influences on personality and relationships. I think it would have been interesting if the authors in the Friedman et al, paper also collected and included information regarding how the different cultures perceive romantic relationships with respect to age. Perhaps in some cultures, relationships around the age of 19 – 23 are perceived to be potential matches for marriage and family, but in other cultures (maybe the US, for instance), relationships at that age are seen less in the context of marriage/family. This perception of what the relationship actually means to the individuals could affect how attachment style affects the relationship too.

    • Ulzhan Yeshengazina says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I was also not convinced that people with high avoidance attachment style in individualistic countries may cope better or have lesser issues in their relationship due to a difference in values of an emotional closeness compare to collectivistic countries. Especially, with the lack of partner’s report, as mentioned by Sophie in earlier comments, I would argue that these findings cannot clearly give an explanation why students from individualistic countries scored high in the measurement of the relationship satisfaction compare to Hong-Kong and Mexico.

  12. Ulzhan Yeshengazina says:

    Friedman et al. conducted a study that looked at the effects of attachment style in a romantic relationship in three different countries. Friedman et al. in this cross-cultural study hypothesized that avoidant attachment style would be more problematic in collectivist culture (Hong-Kong or Mexico) compare to more individualist (the U.S.) culture. The results of the study confirmed a negative correlation between high avoidance attachment style and relationship satisfaction.
    I enjoyed reading the article. I agree that culture plays an essential role in how any relationship develops and attachment style may affect one culture more than others due to normed emphasized in this article. However, the study has some limitations that are important to highlight. The study indicated that people with high avoidant attachment style in collectivist countries would show higher discontentment in their relationship compares to individualist. However, people from individualist country may not stay in a relationship even for three months long due to their unhappiness; which could be those students who did not fit the criteria for the study but would show conflicting results with the authors’ hypothesis. It would be beneficial to review multiple lengths of relationships to improve the external validity of the study.
    It will also be interesting to analyze the length of being in a romantic relationship and cross-cultural difference in defining the relationship. For example, in the U.S. a romantic relationship often differs from dating, whereas in Hong-Kong or Mexico dating is considered a person is in a romantic relationship.
    The role of culture is crucial in developing a relationship; however, in this context longitudinal study would be more appropriate to see the effect of the avoidance attachment style in collectivist and individualist countries.

    • Crystal Quinn says:

      Ulzhan, I like your suggestion to further study the length of relationships and other cross cultural differences. I would think that the length of a relationship marked with dissatisfaction would be shorter in the U.S. than in different countries because of our individualist (more independent) culture. As this paper suggested, relationship length is impacted by both amount of conflict and investment (with longer relationships being positively associated with both). Perhaps future studies can look more closely at sources of conflict that impact relationship length, such as consistent and differing political views between partners.

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