Being secure means being willing to say you're sorry: Attachment style and the communication of relational dissatisfaction and disengagement

Patricia A. Pizzano, John C. Sherblom, Laura R. Umphrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The present study examines the influence of attachment style on the communication choices people make in response to relational dissatisfaction and disengagement. A path analysis models these choices, showing that a secure attachment style predicts the use of voice and de-escalation. A preoccupied style predicts neglect, loyalty, and de-escalation. A dismissing-avoidant style also leads to neglect and loyalty, but predicts behavioural de-escalation. Finally, a fearful-avoidant style indicates more limited communication choices and relational exit. The model shows the possibility of strategically made communication choices changing the results of these attachment style outcomes. Pathways through the model show that active communication choices lead to more positive long-term relational outcomes and passive choices predict relational challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7
JournalJournal of Relationships Research
StatePublished - 2013


  • attachment
  • communication
  • disengagement
  • relationship
  • satisfaction
  • secure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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