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Key Study: The ‘Love Quiz’

Cindy Hazan & Phil Shaver 1987

AIMS: Hazan & Shaver were interested in John Bowlby’s idea that an infant’s first attachment formed an internal working model - a template - for all future relationships. They wanted to see if there was a correlation between the infant’s attachment type and their future approach to romantic relationships.

PROCEDURE (METHOD): to test this Hazan & Shaver devised the ‘Love Quiz’ which consisted of 2 components:-

The Love Quiz was printed in local newspaper the Rocky Mountain News and readers were asked to send in their responses.

Hazan & Shaver analysed the first 620 replies sent in from people aged from 14 to 82.They classified the respondents’ according to Mary Ainsworth’s

infant attachment types of secure, anxious-resistant and anxious-avoidant and looked for corresponding adult love styles - viz:-

FINDINGS (RESULTS): Hazan & Shaver found a strikingly high correlation between the infant attachment types and the adult romantic love styles.

CONCLUSIONS: Hazan & Shaver concluded that there was evidence to support the concept of the inner working model having a life-long effect. However, they did concede that not everyone stayed true to their infant attachment style and that some people did change as they grew older.

CRITICISMS (EVALUATION): people were recording their memories of infant experience and such memories may not always be accurate. Additionally the responders were self-selecting and, therefore, the results may be subject to volunteer bias. Plus, the respondents were self-reporting - and people do not always give truthful answers.

However, a number of studies have supported the Love Quiz findings - eg: Judith Feeney & Patricia Noller (1990) found that securely-attached individuals had the most long-term enduring romantic relationships while anxious-avoidant types had the most short-lived and least-intense relationships. In a 4-month study of heterosexual relationships among Canadian undergraduates Patrick Keelan, Karen Dion & Kenneth Dion (1994) found that those with a secure attachment style expressed more satisfaction with and greater commitment to the relationship and trusted their partner more.

Gerard McCarthy (1999) studied women whose attachment types had been recorded in infancy and found:-

Among undergraduates involved in a romantic relationship, there is also a weak but significant tendency to be attracted to someone with an attachment style like your own, according to Kelly Brennan & Phil Shaver (1995).

An alternative explanation for this apparent continuity lies in Jerome Kagan’s Temperament Hypothesis (1984). Kagan noted that innate temperamental characteristics which made infants ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ had a serious impact on the quality of the mother-infant relationship and thus the attachment type. These innate temperamental characteristics would influence the individual throughout life and thus love relationships.

A trans-generational effect has been shown by Susan Sprecher, Rodney Cate & Lauren Levin (1998). They compared the love styles of 2 sets of students, one whose parents were divorced and one whose parents had stayed together. This second group was then divided into those whose parents had happy marriages and those who didn’t. Amongst the females with divorced parents and unhappily married parents, they were more likely to have an avoidant attachment style and less likely to have a secure one. In terms of John Lee’s love styles - see What is Love? - they were less likely to be Pragma, Agape or Mania and generally had a less idealistic view of romantic love. Male participants whose parents were divorced were more likely to show Eros as their preferred love style - this tendency was even stronger amongst men whose parents were unhappily married.

Hazan & Shaver repeated the Love Quiz in 1993 and again found strong evidence for a correlation between infant attachment type and adult love style - though the correlation was not quite as strong this time. (In total the two Love Quiz studies involved 1200 participants.)

|t is important to bear in mind that Hazan & Shaver only established a correlation. Therefore, cause-and-effect cannot be assumed from their work.