How Insecure Attachment Styles Can Affect Well-Being, Finances
Two extreme styles of romantic attachment — attachment anxiety (excessively clingy) and attachment avoidance (values independence/ avoids closeness) — can both have negative consequences for a person’s well-being, due at least in part to financial reasons, according to a new study led by the University of Arizona.
Attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance are both considered “insecure attachment orientations.” A person’s attachment orientation usually develops in early childhood and persists throughout a person’s lifetime for all different types of relationships, including romantic ones, said University of Arizona researcher Xiaomin Li.
For the study, published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, researchers looked at the data of 635 college-educated young adults in romantic relationships, and found that people with high attachment anxiety and people with high attachment avoidance both reported low life satisfaction and low relationship satisfaction. Those with attachment anxiety also reported low financial satisfaction.
In addition, the researchers found that those with high attachment anxiety and those with high attachment avoidance engaged in more irresponsible financial behaviors. These participants also perceived their partners’ financial behaviors as being irresponsible.
“This study suggests that romantic attachment orientation can affect financial behaviors and perceptions of partners’ financial behaviors,” said Li.
Research has shown that finances play a significant role in well-being. The new study highlights how attachment orientation can affect well-being via finances.
“People’s own less responsible financial behaviors and their perceptions of their romantic partners’ less responsible financial behaviors were associated with multiple life outcomes,” said Li, a doctoral student in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The researchers found that, for those with attachment anxiety, the participants’ own irresponsible financial behaviors were linked to low financial satisfaction and low life satisfaction. Participants’ negative perceptions of their partners’ behaviors were also associated with low financial satisfaction and low life satisfaction, as well as low relationship satisfaction.
For participants high in attachment avoidance, their negative perceptions of their partners’ financial behaviors — but not their own irresponsible financial behaviors — were linked to low relationship satisfaction.
Li said those with high attachment anxiety and those with high attachment avoidance may engage in irresponsible financial behavior for different reasons.
“People who are high in attachment anxiety may use money to get attention from other people,” she explained. For instance, they might buy expensive gifts to try to win a partner’s love.
In contrast, those with attachment avoidance — who tend to be more dismissive of others and rely primarily on themselves — may engage in less responsible spending for their own gain.
“Some researchers have found that people with high attachment avoidance place a high value on materialism,” Li said. Therefore, they may engage in compulsive buying or make expensive purchases as a way of showing that they are “better than others,” she said.
There may also be different reasons for why anxious and avoidant participants each perceive their partners’ behaviors as irresponsible.
People high in attachment avoidance simply may not value their partner very highly, Li said. In contrast, those high in attachment anxiety might distrust their partners due to their own insecurities about the relationship.
Li hopes future research will continue to investigate how nonfinancial factors, such as attachment orientation, may affect financial behaviors and perceptions and, in turn, well-being.
Li’s co-authors on the study were UArizona researchers Melissa Curran and Ashley LeBaron in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Joyce Serido at the University of Minnesota and Soyeon Shim at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Source: University of Arizona
Pedersen, T. (2020). How Insecure Attachment Styles Can Affect Well-Being, Finances. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/03/14/how-insecure-attachment-styles-can-affect-well-being-finances/154974.html