Attachment Style, Rumination, and Romantic Relationship Conflict

Julianne De Lorenzo, Pace University


This study examined the impact of attachment dimensions on romantic relationship conflict and the degree to which rumination mediated this relationship. In a longitudinal study over the course of a semester, participants’ ( N = 252) romantic relationship conflict, attachment style, distress, and rumination was examined via questionnaires. The results indicated that romantic conflict was moderately associated with distress at all three points in the semester. Additionally, in a multivariate model, romantic conflict predicted distress concurrently but not longitudinally. The results further demonstrated that anxious attachment predicted romantic relationship conflict. This effect was moderated by avoidant attachment, suggesting that “fearful” attachment (high anxious and high avoidant) increased risk of conflict to a greater extent. More important, a key finding was that the effect of anxious attachment on romantic relationship conflict was mediated by rumination, suggesting one mechanism of anxious attachment is persistent preoccupation with attachment-related concerns. However, consistent with theoretical models of attachment, no such meditational effect of avoidant attachment was observed. Contrary to my hypotheses, the mediational effect of anxious attachment was also not moderated by avoidant attachment. These findings can help to effectively treat anxiously attached clients and enable them to focus on working through their ruminative thoughts with evidence-based practices in order to help decrease the conflict that they are experiencing in their romantic relationships.

Subject Area

Mental health|Social psychology|Counseling Psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

De Lorenzo, Julianne, "Attachment Style, Rumination, and Romantic Relationship Conflict" (2017). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10687396.



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