Jealousy, Intimacy, and Couple Satisfaction: A Romantic Attachment Perspective

Title: Jealousy, Intimacy, and Couple Satisfaction: A Romantic Attachment Perspective
Authors: Dandurand, Cathy
Date: 2013
Abstract: Romantic relationships are considered to be the most important bonds established in adulthood (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007). Accordingly, extensive empirical efforts have been expended on delineating factors linked with couple satisfaction. Given the intricacies of these relational bonds, a plethora of studies have likewise focused on exploring the elaborate and explicit processes of close relationships. What emerged was one of the most prolific theories of close relationships: attachment theory. Despite the recognized and confirmed role of attachment processes in couple satisfaction (Feeney, Noller, & Hanrahan, 1994), studies have seldom examined how the relation between explicit relationship factors and couple satisfaction may differ as a function of an individual's romantic attachment. The understanding of the link between variables is often enhanced by understanding what limits or improves this relation, for instance, for whom or under which circumstances (Hayes & Matthes, 2009). Such theoretical accounts of an effect are frequently tested and strengthened by the examination of a moderator effect (a variable that impacts the strength or direction of a predictor and outcome variable; Baron & Kenny, 1986). Accordingly, the overarching aim of the thesis was to explore original moderation models examining whether the established relation between jealousy (article 1) or intimacy (article 2) and couple satisfaction, respectively, differs for individuals with distinct romantic attachment patterns (i.e., attachment anxiety versus avoidance). In this way, the goal was to not only implement novel explorations extending current knowledge of the aforementioned link between jealousy or intimacy and couple satisfaction, but moreover, highlight for whom such relations may differ. Explicitly, the main objective of the first article was to implement a unique model exploring the moderating role of romantic attachment on the relation between emotional, iv cognitive, and behavioural jealousy and couple satisfaction. The study comprised of a large university sample of individuals (N = 502) involved in a heterosexual relationship of at least 12 months duration. Given the view of emotional, cognitive, and behavioural jealousy as an interrelated process (Pheiffer & Wong, 1989), and the corresponding absence of a model examining all facets concurrently, a comprehensive model simultaneously incorporating all of the above mentioned facets of jealousy within one model was implemented. Additionally, provided the unexamined stipulation of jealousy as impacting the relationship satisfaction of both partners of a couple (De Silva & Marks, 1994), this study sought to incorporate a new line of research investigating both one's jealousy and one's perception of their partner's jealousy (emotional, cognitive, and behavioural) and the potentially differential relation with one's couple satisfaction. The exploration of hierarchical models revealed that cognitive jealousy was negatively associated with one's couple satisfaction, whereas emotional jealousy demonstrated a positive association; behavioural jealousy was not shown to add incremental value in one's couple satisfaction. All aforementioned results were applicable to both one's own and one's perception of their partner's jealousy for each respective facet. Results also revealed that romantic attachment influenced the strength of the relation between several facets of jealousy and couple satisfaction, with attachment anxiety mostly increasing and attachment avoidance either decreasing or not influencing this relation. As such, findings suggested that jealousy experiences (one's own or one's perception of their partner's) may have a more detrimental relation with one's couple satisfaction amongst individuals exhibiting higher attachment anxiety. The aim of the second study was to explore an original model examining the moderating role of romantic attachment on the relation between intimacy and couple satisfaction using a community sample of couples (N = 117) involved in a heterosexual relationship of at least 12 v months duration. Given that intimacy is viewed as a multifaceted process (Schaefer & Olson, 1981), the current study concurrently investigated both emotional and sexual facets of intimacy within one model. Additionally, given the view of intimacy as a dyadic process that must accommodate both partners (Reis & Shaver, 1981), an actor-partner interdependence model (APIM: Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) using Linear Mixed Models (LML) was implemented in order to examine the relation between a participant's and their partner's emotional and sexual intimacy and one's couple satisfaction. Findings revealed that only actor and partner emotional intimacy were significantly and positively linked with actor couple satisfaction when examined concurrently with sexual intimacy; a larger amount of variance was revealed for actor versus partner effects. Results similarly showed that higher actor avoidant attachment moderated the former relation, such that a lessened positive association was demonstrated between actor emotional intimacy and actor couple satisfaction. Hence, findings suggested that the attainment of higher levels of emotional intimacy may be less pertinent for the satisfactory romantic relationship of individuals exhibiting higher attachment avoidance. No additional moderation effects of romantic attachment were found. The applied and clinical implications of both studies are discussed, such as the relevance of considering romantic attachment in ascertaining the link between particular relationship factors and couple satisfaction.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -