Adult attachment, social comparison, romantic relationship experience, and well-being
Johnson, Kimberly Robyn
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A review of the adult attachment literature revealed previous research findings to demonstrate attachment-based baseline differences in the well-being factor of life satisfaction but not to consider moderating factors nor fluctuations in life satisfaction experience. Furthermore, social cognitive processes highlighted within the subjective well-being literature, namely those captured within social comparison theory, have rarely been examined within an adult attachment perspective. The current thesis sought to address these gaps through investigating the predictive influences of moderating and mediating factors in associations between adult attachment and well-being. Across 5 studies, individuals’ relationship experiences (namely relationship status, satisfaction, and status-changing events), social comparison tendencies (both within general and relationship- and partner-specific contexts), and social-comparison ranking perceptions were each examined. Findings revealed that relationship experiences indeed appeared to moderate individuals’ attachment-based feelings of subjective well-being, with greater anxiety in particular suggestive of more maladaptive cognitive and affective experience (Study 1). Social comparison tendencies, both general and interpersonally-oriented, were also identified to differ on the basis of anxiety and avoidance, with adverse comparison habits found to partially mediate associations between anxiety and both life satisfaction and self-esteem (Studies 2 and 4). Lastly, attachment-based differences in social-ranking perceptions were identified (Study 5), with anxiety found to interact with relationship status while an interaction between anxiety, ranking perceptions and relationship length as predictor of life satisfaction was found to be approaching significance.