Covariations Among Attachment, Attributions, Self-Esteem, and Psychological Aggression in Early Marriage

Alexa B. Chandler*, Erika Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The associations between insecure attachment (anxious and avoidant dimensions), maladaptive relational attributions, self-esteem, and psychological aggression were examined in a sample of couples (N = 96 couples) across the early years of marriage. Studying these constructs within a single sample is a novel contribution to the literature. Attachment was assessed at marriage, whereas maladaptive attributions, selfesteem, and psychological aggression were evaluated annually over the first 7 years of marriage. For the present study, specific maladaptive relational attributions about the spouse’s hypothetical aggressive behavior were investigated. Data from both spouses were examined simultaneously using growth curve analytic and actor–partner interdependence modeling techniques. Results indicated that self locus attributions (i.e., attributing the cause of the spouse’s hypothetical aggressive behavior to the self), intentionality attributions (i.e., attributing the spouse’s motivation for the hypothetical behavior as intentional), and self-esteem were predicted by insecure attachment and covaried longitudinally with psychological aggression. Husbands’ selfesteem and wives’ intentionality attributions were particularly consistent in these associations. The results replicate and extend previous research by examining these constructs using a longitudinal dyadic approach. The findings of this study provide specific targets for intervention efforts to reduce psychological aggression and support conceptualizing psychological aggression within a dyadic and dynamic framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Attachment
  • Attributions
  • Couples
  • Psychological aggression
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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