How Needing You Changes Me: The Influence of Attachment Anxiety on Self-concept Malleability in Romantic Relationships

Erica B. Slotter, Wendi L Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals' selves are malleable in romantic relationships. Specifically, individuals integrate characteristics of partners into their self-concepts to further closeness/intimacy goals (Aron, 2003). Unfortunately, this malleability during relationships predicts self-concept change/confusion if a relationship ends (Slotter, Gardner, & Finkel, 2010). The current research investigated one potential moderator of these effects: attachment anxiety. Individuals who experience elevated attachment anxiety desire greater closeness/intimacy in their relationships than their less anxious counterparts. Thus, their self-concepts may be especially malleable in romantic relationships. Testing these hypotheses, three studies using undergraduate samples demonstrated that elevated attachment anxiety predicted individuals' selves being more malleable during romantic relationships (Studies 1 & 2) and being more susceptible to change/confusion should the relationship end (Studies 3A & 3B).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-408
Number of pages23
JournalSelf and Identity
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

Keywords

  • Adult attachment
  • Identity
  • Romantic relationships
  • Self-concept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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