Attachment shapes people’s experiences in their close relationships and their self-views. Although attachment avoidance and anxiety both undermine relationships, past research has primarily emphasized detrimental effects of anxiety on the self-concept. However, as partners can help people maintain stable self-views, avoidant individuals’ negative views of others might place them at risk for self-concept confusion. We hypothesized that avoidance would predict lower self-concept clarity and that less self-verification from partners would mediate this association. Attachment avoidance was associated with lower self-concept clarity (Studies 1-5), an effect that was mediated by low self-verification (Studies 2-3). The association between avoidance and self-verification was mediated by less self-disclosure and less trust in partner feedback (Study 4). Longitudinally, avoidance predicted changes in self-verification, which in turn predicted changes in self-concept clarity (Study 5). Thus, avoidant individuals’ reluctance to trust or become too close to others may result in hidden costs to the self-concept.
- close relationships
- self-concept clarity