The strange case of sustained dedication to an unfulfilling relationship: Predicting commitment and breakup from attachment anxiety and need fulfillment within relationships

Erica B. Slotter, Eli J. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two studies investigated whether need fulfillment within relationships moderates the associations of attachment anxiety with relationship commitment and persistence. The authors hypothesized that individuals who experience low attachment anxiety would exhibit declining commitment and increased risk of breakup if their partner failed to meet their core psychological needs, whereas individuals who experience high attachment anxiety would not. Study 1 employed longitudinal procedures to examine the associations among need fulfillment within relationships, attachment anxiety, commitment, and breakup. Study 2 employed experimental procedures to examine whether the temporary activation of attachment anxiety alters the association of need fulfillment with commitment. As predicted, relative to their high anxiety counterparts, individuals experiencing low attachment anxiety reported less commitment at study entry (Studies 1 and 2), declining commitment over time (Study 1), and an increased risk of breakup (Study 1)-but only when their partner failed to help them fulfill their relatedness and autonomy needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Breakup
  • Commitment
  • Need fulfillment
  • Self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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