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Priming attachment goals: Effects on disclosure

Julia Fishtein, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Attachment researchers speculate that different working models of attachment contain within them different chronic interpersonal goals and that these goals guide behavior in ways consistent with each different model of attachment. The current study experimentally manipulated goals thought to be associated with different attachment prototypes and measured their effect on self-disclosure. 101 participants completed a priming task on the computer in which they were presented with neutral, intimacy-, or defensiveness-related words and were later asked to complete a questionnaire tapping their willingness to disclose personal information about themselves, and participate in an interview. Results indicate that although priming alone did not influence disclosure, it interacted with attachment style. Individuals low in dismissiveness and preoccupation were more likely to disclose information about themselves than those high in dismissiveness and preoccupation. These effects were moderated by priming condition. As dismissiveness increased, willingness to disclose decreased, but this effect was stronger for individuals primed with defensiveness-related words. Contrary to expectation, higher preoccupation predicted greater willingness to disclose in the defensiveness condition as compared with either the neutral or intimacy conditions. These results are discussed in terms of contrast and assimilation effects as they relate to working models of attachment.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Fishtein, Julia, "Priming attachment goals: Effects on disclosure" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9932311.