Attachment and Relationships
Relationship Dynamics across the Transition to Parenthood
with Steve Rholes, Jeff Simpson, Jen Fillo, et al.
When couples become parents for the first time, they experience dramatic changes in their lives. This research focuses on how attachment insecurities relate to trajectories of change for individual-, couple-, and family-level processes. In an NIMH-funded study, we collected data from husbands and wives during the first two years of parenthood. This includes behavioral observations and questionnaire data. Using the actor-partner interdependence model, we can predict outcomes using a person’s own perceptions/experiences (actor effect) and their partner’s perceptions/experiences (partner effect). This research uses a variety of statistical methods to model change over time, including dyadic growth curve analysis. Overall, our work shows that the attachment system affects how we perceive and respond to our partners’ actions. Specifically, we have studied what predicts trajectories of change in:
- Depressive symptoms (Rholes et al., 2011)
- Marital satisfaction (Kohn et al., 2012)
- Division of and satisfaction with childcare responsibilities (Fillo et al., in press)
- Conflict (Rholes et al., 2014)
- Attachment orientations
Emotion, Self-Regulation and Adult Attachment
I am interested in how attachment orientations affect the experience, expression, and regulation of emotions. In Kohn et al. (2012), we showed that, when avoidant individuals were less able to exert self-control, they recalled negative memories more quickly. This suggests that avoidant individuals cope with negative emotions by suppressing them. When they lack self-control resources, their defensive strategies fail. This research used laboratory methods to manipulate and measure attention, memory retrieval, and executive functioning. I am interested in individual differences in the emotion regulation process, including the role of attachment orientations. These interests extend to the workplace, including how attachment impacts processes such as goal disengagement, work-family balance, and emotional contagion.