Students will complete a research prospectus paper that includes at least one topic in the area of close relationships. A research prospectus (3-4 pages of text) is a research plan that includes a title page in APA format, a brief review of the literature (2-3 articles), a hypothesis, an explanation of the research design, an explanation of the proposed method, a discussion of possible limitations, and a reference page.
Title: The Impact of Attachment Styles on Relationship Satisfaction: A Prospective Study
Close relationships are an integral part of human life and play a significant role in shaping individuals’ well-being. Scholars have extensively studied the factors that influence relationship satisfaction, with attachment styles being one of the most widely explored constructs in this domain. Attachment theory posits that individuals develop different attachment styles (secure, anxious, and avoidant) based on their early experiences with caregivers. These attachment styles tend to persist into adulthood and profoundly impact how individuals form and maintain close relationships.
A review of the literature reveals a substantial body of research examining the associations between adult attachment styles and relationship satisfaction. Studies have consistently shown that individuals with a secure attachment style tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction compared to those with insecure attachment styles (An et al., 2014; Collins & Feeney, 2004). Securely attached individuals are more likely to experience greater intimacy, trust, and satisfaction in their relationships due to their positive internal working models of self and others.
In contrast, individuals with an anxious attachment style exhibit hyperactivation of attachment-related emotions, leading to higher levels of relationship anxiety and lower relationship satisfaction (Frazier et al., 2014; Overall & Fletcher, 2012). Anxiously attached individuals tend to be more preoccupied with their partner’s availability and responsiveness, often leading to constant reassurance-seeking behavior and relationship dissatisfaction.
Similarly, individuals with an avoidant attachment style tend to have negative internal working models of relationships, leading to emotional distancing and self-sufficiency (Collins & Read, 1990; Simpson, 2020). Avoidantly attached individuals tend to exhibit lower levels of relationship satisfaction due to their avoidance of closeness and emotional intimacy, which often leads to relationship dissatisfaction and instability.
Building on the existing literature, the present study aims to explore the relationship between attachment styles and relationship satisfaction in a prospective manner. Based on the literature, we hypothesize that individuals with a secure attachment style will report higher relationship satisfaction compared to those with an anxious or avoidant attachment style. Furthermore, we expect that anxious and avoidant attachment styles will be associated with lower relationship satisfaction due to their specific patterns of relationship behaviors and emotional responses.
To address the research question, we will employ a prospective longitudinal design. Participants will be recruited from the local community and screened for eligibility criteria, such as being in a romantic relationship for at least six months and being 18 years or older. Initial data collection will include measures of attachment style, demographics, and relationship satisfaction.
Participants will then be followed up at three-month intervals over a one-year period to assess changes in attachment style and relationship satisfaction. At each follow-up, participants will complete the same measures as the initial assessment, allowing us to examine within-participant changes over time and evaluate the stability of attachment styles and their impact on relationship satisfaction.
The proposed methodological approach includes a mixed-methods approach, comprising both quantitative and qualitative measures. The quantitative measures include self-report questionnaires assessing attachment style and relationship satisfaction. The qualitative component will involve in-depth interviews with a subset of participants to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences and perceptions underlying the observed relationships between attachment styles and relationship satisfaction.
Discussion of Possible Limitations:
Despite the strengths of the proposed research design, there are several limitations to consider. First, our sample will consist mainly of individuals from the local community, which may limit the generalizability of our findings. Additionally, reliance on self-report measures may introduce biases due to social desirability or participant misinterpretation of the questions. Finally, the use of a longitudinal design requires a significant commitment from participants, potentially leading to attrition and a biased sample.
An, Y., Gao, W., & Sun, Q. (2014). Adult attachment, alexithymia, and marital satisfaction: The mediating role of dyadic coping. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 42(1), 95–104.
Collins, N. L., & Feeney, B. C. (2004). Working models of attachment shape perceptions of social support: Evidence from experimental and observational studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 363–383.
Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
Frazier, P., Mortensen, H., & Steward, J. (2014). Coping and attachment predict forgiveness in couples after a transgression. Journal of Family Communication, 14(3), 216–235.
Overall, N. C., & Fletcher, G. J. O. (2012). Attachment style and communication in close relationships: An integrative review. Personal Relationships, 19(2), 299–313.
Simpson, J. A. (2020). Attachment and relationships: Insights from social cognitive neuroscience. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(2), 137–143.