You Can’t See the Real Me: Attachment Avoidance, Self-Verification, and Self-Concept Clarity

Lydia F. Emery*, Wendi L. Gardner, Kathleen L. Carswell, Eli J. Finkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Attachment shapes people’s experiences in their close relationships and their self-views. Although attachment avoidance and anxiety both undermine relationships, past research has primarily emphasized detrimental effects of anxiety on the self-concept. However, as partners can help people maintain stable self-views, avoidant individuals’ negative views of others might place them at risk for self-concept confusion. We hypothesized that avoidance would predict lower self-concept clarity and that less self-verification from partners would mediate this association. Attachment avoidance was associated with lower self-concept clarity (Studies 1-5), an effect that was mediated by low self-verification (Studies 2-3). The association between avoidance and self-verification was mediated by less self-disclosure and less trust in partner feedback (Study 4). Longitudinally, avoidance predicted changes in self-verification, which in turn predicted changes in self-concept clarity (Study 5). Thus, avoidant individuals’ reluctance to trust or become too close to others may result in hidden costs to the self-concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1146
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • attachment
  • close relationships
  • self-concept clarity
  • self-verification
  • self/identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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