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The role of attachment avoidance and defensive fight in aggression

journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-01, 00:00 authored by Gery KarantzasGery Karantzas, Nicolas KambouropoulosNicolas Kambouropoulos
Attachment insecurity (i.e., levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance) is associated with interpersonal violence and aggression. However, evidence suggests that the associations are more consistent for attachment anxiety than for attachment avoidance. This raises questions as to whether there are particular moderators that may help to explain the lack of consistency in findings for attachment avoidance. In this article, we focus on a novel moderator regarding the association between attachment avoidance and aggression. Drawing on attachment theory, the aggression literature, and research into systems of threat detection, we suggest that the association between attachment avoidance and aggression may reflect a defensive fight (DF) response in situations of high relationship threat. Across two studies (Study 1, a self-report cross-sectional design; N = 128; Study 2, a cross-sectional experimental design, N = 126), we tested the extent that DF moderated the association between attachment avoidance and aggression under perceived relationship threat. In line with our suggestion, a three-way interaction was found across both studies between attachment avoidance, relationship threat, and DF. The findings have important theoretical and practical implications for the study of interpersonal aggression from an attachment theory perspective.

History

Journal

Journal of social and personal relationships

Volume

36

Pagination

1476-1490

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

0265-4075

eISSN

1460-3608

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, The Author(s)

Issue

5

Publisher

SAGE Publications

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