EXPLORING THE ROLE OF SELF-DISCLOSURE AND PLAYFULNESS IN ADULT ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIPS
Mount, Mandy K.
Hoffman, Mary Ann
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This study utilized attachment theory as a framework for investigating aspects of relationship adjustment and emotional exploration, including self-disclosure and playfulness, in the romantic relationships of adults. 132 participants completed an online survey that included measures of adult attachment, relationship adjustment, playfulness, self-disclosure to partner, generalized exploration, and social desirability. Participants were also given the opportunity to write about dimensions of play behaviors in their relationships. A series of hierarchical linear regressions indicated that attachment orientation may be related in important ways to playfulness and self-disclosure, while these variables serve an important role in the successful adjustment of adult attachment relationships. The data suggested that avoidant attachment was negatively related to the intent, honesty, depth, amount and valence of self-disclosure while anxious attachment was positively related to the depth of self-disclosure. Additional regression analyses determined that avoidant attachment was also negatively related to playfulness with one's partner. Both avoidance and anxiety were found to contribute significantly to poor relationship adjustment, while playfulness and all dimensions of self-disclosure except intent were positively related to overall relationship adjustment. The present study also utilized a cluster analysis to identify ways that natural groupings of individuals formed on the variables of interest. The clusters indicated that people in better-adjusted relationships tended to be more playful with their partners on a more consistent basis and reported greater honesty, depth and amount self-disclosure relative to those in less well-adjusted relationships. The valence of self-disclosure had a particularly strong relationship with adjustment such that those who disclosed more positive information were also those found in well-adjusted relationships. The area of adult attachment is still in its early stages of development, but helping individuals understand developmental relationship patterns and the impact of "working models" may be of great importance for individuals' psychological and emotional well-being. The findings of this study support the importance of using attachment theory as a model for understanding the ways that behavioral systems, such as exploration, may play a role in the development and maintenance of adult romantic relationships.