Attachment styles and reactions to nonverbal involvement change in romantic dyads patterns of reciprocity and compensation

Laura K. Guerrero, Judee K. Burgoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Attachment-theory principles suggest that those with different attachment styles will react to nonverbal involvement change in a manner consistent with their approach/avoidance orientations and mental working models of self and others. It was hypothesized that preoccupieds initially reciprocate increases in involvement, but compensate for decreases, whereas dismissives initially compensate for increases in involvement, but reciprocate decreases. A second hypothesis predicted that over time interactants reciprocate both increases and decreases in nonverbal involvement. Partners in enduring romantic relationships participated in two separate conversations. Between conversations, one member of each dyad was enlisted as a confederate who increased or decreased nonverbal immediacy and positive affect in the second conversation. Results indicated that, regardless of attachment style, targets reciprocated confederate behavior in the increase-involvement condition and displayed behavior indicative of both compensation and reciprocity in the decrease-involvement condition. However, preoccupieds showed the strongest pattern of reciprocating increases in involvement and compensating for decreases in involvement. Results also demonstrated a pull toward reciprocity over time. Findings are interpreted in light of the bidimensional model of distancing and interaction adaptation theory, with results most supportive of the latter theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-370
Number of pages36
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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