The concept involves one’s confidence in the availability of the attachment figure as a secure base from which one can freely explore the world when not in distress and a safe haven from which one can seek support, protection, and comfort in times of distress.
Securely attached individuals are comfortable with intimacy and can balance dependence and independence in relationships.
Individuals with this attachment style crave intimacy and can be overly dependent and demanding in relationships.
This style is characterized by a strong sense of self-sufficiency, often to the point of appearing detached. Individuals with dismissive attachment value their independence highly and may seem uninterested in close relationships.
Individuals with a fearful attachment style desire close relationships and fear vulnerability. They may behave unpredictably in relationships due to their internal conflict between a desire for intimacy and fear of it.
In humans, the behavioral attachment system does not conclude in infancy or even childhood. Instead, it is active throughout the lifespan, with individuals gaining comfort from physical and mental representations of significant others (Bowlby, 1969).
In other words, there will be continuity between early attachment experiences and later relationships. This is known as the continuity hypothesis.
Researchers have proposed that working models are interconnected within a complex hierarchical structure (Collins & Read, 1994). For example, the highest-level model comprises beliefs and expectations across all types of relationships, and lower-level models hold general rules about specific relations, such as romantic or parental, underpinned by models specific to events within a relationship with a single person.
Adult attachment styles describe people’s comfort and confidence in close relationships, their fear of rejection and their yearning for intimacy, and their preference for self-sufficiency or interpersonal distance.
Securely attached adults tend to hold positive self-images and positive images of others, meaning that they have both a sense of worthiness and an expectation that other people are generally accepting and responsive.