The Generalization of Attachment Representations to New Social Situations: Predicting Behavior during Initial Interactions with Strangers

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Feeney, B. C., Cassidy, J., & Ramos-Marcuse, F. (2008). The generalization of attachment representations to new social situations: Predicting behavior during initial interactions with strangers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(6), 1481–1498.


The idea that attachment representations are generalized to new social situations and guide behavior with unfamiliar others is central to attachment theory. However, research regarding this important theoretical postulate has been lacking in adolescence and adulthood, as most research has focused on establishing the influence of attachment representations on close relationship dynamics. Thus, the goal of this investigation was to examine the extent to which attachment representations are predictive of adolescents' initial behavior when meeting and interacting with new peers. High school adolescents (N = 135) participated with unfamiliar peers from another school in 2 social support interactions that were videotaped and coded by independent observers. Results indicated that attachment representations (assessed through interview and self-report measures) were predictive of behaviors exhibited during the discussions. Theoretical implications of the results and contributions to the existing literature are discussed. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)


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