Attachment (in)security and threat priming influence signal detection performance

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Sakman E., Sumer N.

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS, vol.35, no.6, pp.889-916, 2018 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 35 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0265407517700513
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.889-916
  • Keywords: Attachment orientations, cognitive performance, signal detection task, threat and attachment figure primes, ADULT ATTACHMENT, CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS, STYLE DIFFERENCES, REACTION-TIME, ACCESSIBILITY, THOUGHTS, MEMORY, REPRESENTATIONS, INFORMATION, SUPPRESSION


This study examined whether the subliminal priming of threat and attachment figure availability interfere with cognitive attentional performance in conditions of uncertainty among individuals with differing attachment orientations. University students (N = 225) first completed a scale to identify names of their significant attachment figures (WHOTO) and self-report measures of attachment anxiety and avoidance and were then administered a computerized signal detection task assessing their cognitive attentional performance under conditions of threat and attachment figure availability priming. Findings revealed that both attachment anxiety and avoidance posed risk factors for cognitive performance but in different patterns. While attachment avoidance made individuals more prone to errors in missing a signal that was present, attachment anxiety increased the error rate for false alarms. These findings are discussed in relation to previous work in the field and their implications for potential cultural differences.