Adult attachment, attributions, the Four Horsemen, and relationship satisfaction in dating relationships

Lindsay Murphy, Purdue University


This study explored relationship satisfaction using a sample of 237 people who were in a romantic dating relationship at the point of time that the data was collected. Adult attachment, attributions and Gottman's (1993) Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have all been found to correlate with or affect relationship satisfaction. What was less understood is if, and how, these phenomena are related. In addition, most of the research in this area is on marital relationships, but with the divorce rate being so high, it is imperative to get an understanding of how these variables relate in dating relationships to aid in pre-marital education and intervention. This study helps to shed light on how attachment, attribution, and the Four Horsemen are independently and interactively related to satisfaction in dating relationships. Using structural equation modeling, support was found for several hypotheses, but the overall hypothesized model was not a good fit. The following hypotheses were found to be significant. Higher attachment anxiety predicted more partner-effacing attributions and higher levels of contempt. Higher attachment avoidance predicted more partner-effacing attributions, higher levels of stonewalling, and lower relationship satisfaction. Greater partner-effacing attributions predicted higher levels of contempt and lower relationship satisfaction. Higher contempt predicted low relationship satisfaction. The findings in this study provide direction for pre-marital education programs and may help clinicians in the conceptualization and treatment of couples in dating relationships.^




David P. Nalbone, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Psychology, Behavioral

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