Longitudinal associations between mindfulness and change in attachment orientations in couples: The role of relationship preoccupation and empathy

Taranah Gazder*, Sarah C. E. Stanton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Attachment orientations predict relationship outcomes and health and well-being, making it important to illuminate factors which enhance attachment security. We investigated how general and relationship-specific mindfulness predict changes in attachment orientations in couples over time, testing relationship preoccupation and partner-focused empathy as mediators. We also explored whether the longitudinal links between general mindfulness and attachment are bidirectional. Couples reported their general and relationship mindfulness and attachment orientations in a baseline session (Phase 1). They then reported relationship preoccupation and empathy each day for 14 days (Phase 2). Lastly, they reported general mindfulness and attachment orientations two months later (Phase 3). Results revealed that higher Phase 1 actor general—but not relationship—mindfulness directly predicted Phase 1-3 decreases in actor attachment anxiety. Conversely, greater Phase 1 actor relationship—but not general—mindfulness indirectly predicted Phase 1-3 decreases in actor attachment avoidance via greater Phase 2 actor empathy. Finally, lower Phase 1 actor and partner attachment anxiety directly predicted Phase 1-3 increases in general mindfulness. This research provides the first dyadic longitudinal demonstration of the interplay between partners’ mindfulness and attachment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Early online date16 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • mindfulness
  • attachment
  • empathy
  • relationship preoccupation
  • intimate relationships
  • dyadic data
  • longitudinal

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