Can security-enhancing interventions overcome psychological barriers to responsiveness in couple relationships?

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Attachment & human development, ISSN: 1469-2988, Vol: 15, Issue: 3, Page: 246-60

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Mikulincer, Mario; Shaver, Phillip R; Sahdra, Baljinder K; Bar-On, Naama
Informa UK Limited; Routledge
Psychology; Medicine
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Recent studies have shown that both dispositional and experimentally enhanced attachment security facilitate compassion and altruism. Here we report findings from a laboratory experiment, replicated in two countries (Israel and the United States), testing the hypotheses that (a) increased security (accomplished through subliminal priming) fosters caregiving behavior toward a romantic partner who discloses a personal problem, and (b) this increased security overcomes barriers to responsiveness induced by mental depletion. We gathered data on participants' attachment insecurities, randomly assigned them to one of four mental depletion (yes, no) and priming (security, neutral) conditions, and coded their behavior in an interaction with their romantic partner who was disclosing a personal problem. Dispositional attachment insecurities and manipulated mental depletion adversely affected caregiving, but security priming overrode the detrimental effects of both mental depletion and attachment insecurity in both Israel and the United States.