Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Heterosexual Attachment Bonds: A Comparison Across Sexual Orientations<br />University of Texas at San Antonio & University of Texas at Arlington<br />Psychology Department<br />.Jarryd T. Willis, M.S.<br />Department of Psychology<br />Department of Psychology<br />ABSTRACT<br />A meta-analytic (N = 757) investigation compared heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual attachment styles across four relationship types: principal caregiver, romantic partner, cross-sex friend, and same-sex friend. This study extended the applicability and generalizability of friendship and romantic partner models of adult attachment by replicating apparent lover-contingent attachment anxiety effects using gay and lesbian participants.<br />METHODS<br />Participants recruited on campus, through San Antonio businesses, on Facebook, & Twitter<br />- 185 LGB (80 lesbians; 20 bisexual women)- 552 Heterosexual (361 women)<br />IV = romantic status- 304 Single – 433 Committed<br />DV = ECR-R Anxiety Scale per Attachment FigureCross-sex friend, Same-sex friend (SSF), Romantic Partner (RP), Caregiver<br />DISCUSSION<br />While there was unequivocal support for hypotheses 1, 3, 4, and 5, hypothesis 2 was only partially supported as LGB individuals’ caregiver attachment anxiety was no different from that of their romantic partners. In fact, it was greater than that for heterosexuals. - LGB individuals can’t be as sure about the availability and responsiveness of their caregivers as heterosexuals can in the face of threatening events. - In fact, the caregiver relationship itself is a source of threat for many LGB people, especially if they haven’t come out to their parents yet. - 26% of gay teens who come out to their parents are kicked out of home (Remafedi, 1987).<br />- As subject #163 said of his experience when coming out, “They beat me and told me they would rather have me dead than be their son.”- Subject #15 said they told her she was “going to die of AIDS and go to Hell.”- Thus, LGB individuals’ legitimate fear of loss for that parental relationship, and potential negative consequences incurred upon them, makes it fundamentally different from that of heterosexuals. <br />Taken together, the attachment system mechanics of partner-specific attachment anxiety appear to function similarly for both LG & Heterosexual individuals, the lone caveat being that the obverse is observed regarding the gender of that specific partner<br /><ul><li>Attachment for someone can change & be different for different people: friendship attachments predictably change based on romantic status and do so along orientation-specific lines.
Lovers become primary attachments and supersede caregivers and friends: although in the LGB case there is unique concern for their caregiver attachment in the first place, as their parents may disown them after coming-out, or worse.- The data contributes to the idea that attachment-related anxiety can at times be normative (see Eastwick & Finkel, 2008). The same mild increase in anxiety was seen for all orientations.</li></ul>This study added to the generalizability of Attachment Theory propositions built on heterosexual samples, and contributed to literature suggesting that heterosexual and LGB relationships function similarly. Theoretical findings for heterosexuals’ attachment system can profit from replications such as this from an LGB sample.<br />INTRODUCTION<br />Attachment theory is a highly integrative framework for understanding and predicting the function and quality of close relationships in adulthood.<br />Recent research has increasingly found that individuals may develop differential attachments over the course of relationships that deviate from the attachment orientations they developed earlier in life (Cozzarelli, Hoekstra, & Bylsma, 2000; La Guardia, Ryan, Couchman, & Deci, 2000; Sibley & Overall, 2008). They may have different attachment styles between different attachment figures and the strength or style of attachment within certain attachment relationships may change.<br />At no other time does the attachment system appear to change as much as it does when romantic partners enter into the equation.<br />Research by Fraley and Davis (1997) found that attachment anxiety correlates with sexual desire for cross-sex friends & not same-sex friends, and for single individuals as opposed to committed individuals.<br />Judith Feeney (2004) found that attachment anxiety was positively correlated with strength of attachment to romantic partners, and greater romantic involvement reflected weaker attachment to lovers and friends.<br />One way to support the veracity of these emerging differential attachment findings is to cross-validate them with a lesbian and gay sample.Research on LGB attachment relationships may provide empirical contributions to the generalizability of differential attachment, and to our understanding of how gender affects close relationships (Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007).Gender, in fact, looks to be a key variable in a cross-validation of differential attachment patterns between straight and gay people. Specifically, same-sex friend and cross-sex friendships.<br /><ul><li>H1: There will be an interaction such that single heterosexual subjects will score higher in cross-sex friend attachment anxiety than single LG subjects, and single LG subjects will score higher in same-sex friend attachment anxiety than single heterosexual subjects.
H2: Attachment anxiety will be greater for same-sex friends than cross-sex friends for single LG, and greater for cross-sex friends than same-sex friends for single heterosexuals.
H3: Romantically involved LG subjects will score higher in attachment anxiety for romantic partners than for same-sex friends or caregivers, and involved heterosexual subjects will score higher in attachment anxiety for romantic partners than for cross-sex friends or caregivers.
H4: A main effect of romantic status will find higher cross-sex friend attachment anxiety scores for single heterosexual subjects than for those in a relationship.
H5: A main effect of romantic status will find higher same-sex friend attachment anxiety scores for single LG subjects than for those in a relationship.
H6: A main effect of romantic status will find that single bisexual subjects have higher attachment anxiety scores for both same-sex friends AND cross-sex friends than do those in a relationship.</li></ul>REFERENCES<br />Cozzarelli, C., Hoekstra, S.J., & Bylsma, W.H. (2000). General versus specific mental models of attachment: Are they associated with different outcomes? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(5), 605-618. <br />Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J. (2008). The attachment system in fledgling relationships: An activation role for attachment anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 628-647.<br />Feeney, J. A. (2004). Transfer of Attachment from Parents to Romantic Partners: Effects of Individual and Relationship Variables. Journal of Family Studies, 10(2), 220-238.<br />Fraley, C., & Davis, K. (1997) Attachment formation and transfer in young adults’ close friendships and romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 4, 131-144.<br />La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-person variation in security of attachment: A self-determination theory perspective on attachment, need fulfillment, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 367-384.<br />Peplau, L. A., & Fingerhut, A. W. (2007). The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 405-24.<br />Remafedi, G. (1987). Male homosexuality: The Adolescent Perspective. Pediatrics, 79 (3), 326-330.<br />Sibley, C.G., & Overall, N.C. (2008). Modeling the hierarchical structure of attachment representations: A test of domain differentiation. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 238-249. <br />Presented at 2011 APA Conference, Washington D.C.<br />