PARTNER'S CONFLICT BEHAVIOR AND RECIPIENT'S ATTACHMENT STYLE AS PREDICTORS OF PERCEIVED CRITICISM IN CLINICAL COUPLES
Savory, Kara Lee
Epstein, Norman B
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The association between critical communication behavior exhibited by one member of a couple during a conversation and the amount of criticism that is perceived by the person's partner was explored. The study investigated whether that association is moderated by the degrees to which the recipient of messages identifies with each of four attachment styles (secure, fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing). The sample was 95 couples who had sought therapy at a university-based couple and family therapy clinic. Each couple engaged in a 10-minute discussion of a conflictual issue in their relationship, which was video-recorded and subsequently coded for constructive and destructive communication behavior, including criticism. For both men and women, the amount of actual criticism predicted the amount perceived. Attachment styles did not directly predict the amount of criticism perceived, but there was evidence that for both genders attachment styles moderated the relationship between the degree of conflict behavior exhibited by the partner and the amount of criticism that the recipient perceived.