Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Relationship recall: Attachment style may affect memories of relationship events

Date:
February 3, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
It can be frustrating when our partners remember things differently than we do, but according to new research, they are not trying to be difficult, but personality may affect how they (and we) remember relationship events (such as discussions). Specifically, the way highly anxious and avoidant individuals remember certain events is based on their needs and goals for the relationship, but only if they were distressed when the memories were created.

Following an argument or a particularly heated discussion with our partner, they may remember details of the conversation very differently than we do. This may lead to even more arguments, as we try to convince the other that our recollection of the argument is more correct then theirs. It can be frustrating when our partners remember things differently than we do, but according to new research from Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, they are not trying to be difficult, but personality may affect how they (and we) remember relationship events (such as discussions).

Related Articles


Research has shown that our specific attachment style (that is, how anxious or avoidant we are in relationships) may affect many facets of our relationships. Psychological scientists Jeffry Simpson from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus; W. Steven Rholes of Texas A&M University; and Heike A. Winterheld from California State University, East Bay wanted to investigate how attachment styles affect memory for relationship events. Couples participating in this experiment completed personality assessments and also listed problems in their relationship. They were videotaped as they discussed the two highest-ranking problems (one from each partner's list). Following the discussions, each participant completed a questionnaire on how supportive and emotionally distant they themselves felt immediately following the discussions. Then, the couples returned to the lab a week later and completed the same questionnaires, recalling how supportive and emotionally distant they had felt following the original discussions. In addition, independent observers watched the discussions and rated the behavior of each partner according to how supportive, emotionally distant, and anxious they seemed to be.

Analysis of the results reveals that the way highly anxious and avoidant individuals remember certain events is based on their needs and goals for the relationship, but only if they were distressed when the memories were created. More avoidant individuals remembered being less supportive one week following the discussion than they initially reported, but only if they been distressed during the discussions. Less avoidant individuals remembered being more supportive than they initially reported, but only if they had been distressed during the discussions. The authors observe that "these findings are consistent with the needs and goals of highly avoidant people, who yearn to limit intimacy and maintain control and autonomy in their relationships." The authors add that these findings are also consistent with needs of less avoidant (that is, more secure) individuals, who want to increase intimacy in their relationships.

Less anxious individuals remembered being more distant than initially reported if they had been distressed during the discussions. More anxious individuals remembered being closer to their partners than they initially reported if they were distressed during the discussions. The authors note that these results are consistent with anxious individuals' need for closeness and security.

These findings indicate that what individuals respond to in relationships is not what was actually said or done during an interaction with their partner. Instead, what they respond to may be the memories of the interaction, as interpreted due to how anxious or avoidant they are.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Simpson et al. Attachment Working Models Twist Memories of Relationship Events. Psychological Science, 2009; DOI: 10.1177/0956797609357175

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Relationship recall: Attachment style may affect memories of relationship events." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134255.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, February 3). Relationship recall: Attachment style may affect memories of relationship events. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134255.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Relationship recall: Attachment style may affect memories of relationship events." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134255.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins