Big spoon or little spoon: Relations of couples’ attachment styles to cuddling, affection, sleep, and relationship satisfaction
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling
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The purpose of this study was to examine the association of attachment styles on relationship satisfaction and sleep quality in romantic couples. The study also sought to understand how cuddling and other types of affection (i.e. verbal and supportive) may mediate those relationships. The Actor Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) was used to examine 104 heterosexual couples from the United States to determine whether actor and/or partner effects were present for the relationship between insecure attachment (i.e. anxious and avoidant) and relationship satisfaction. APIM was also used to determine whether actor/partner effects were present between insecure attachment and sleep disturbance. Significant actor effects were present in these models, indicating those who reported higher anxious and avoidant attachment, reported lower relationship satisfaction, and higher sleep disturbance. Some of the partner effects for the outcome of relationship satisfaction were also significant. The APIM with mediation (APIMeM) and bias-corrected bootstrapped confidence limits were used to assess mediation and test the significance of the indirect effects of cuddling, affectionate communication, and sleep disturbance. Affectionate communication partially mediated the relationship between avoidant attachment and relationship satisfaction, such that those with lower avoidant attachment reported more affectionate communication, and in turn, reported higher relationship satisfaction. Affectionate communication also partially mediated the relationship between avoidant attachment and sleep quality, such that those with higher avoidant attachment reported lower affectionate communication, and in turn, reported higher sleep disturbance. Significant mediation effects were present for actors only. Sleep disturbance partially mediated the relationship between anxious attachment and relationship satisfaction for actors, such that those with lower anxious attachment reported lower sleep disturbance, and in turn, reported higher relationship satisfaction. There were no significant indirect effects for cuddling as a mediator in the relationship between insecure attachment and relationship satisfaction, nor in between insecure attachment and sleep disturbance. There were no significant indirect effects for affectionate communication as a mediator between anxious attachment and relationship satisfaction, nor in between anxious attachment and sleep disturbance. There was also no significant mediation effect for sleep quality in the relationship between avoidant attachment and relationship satisfaction. Implications for these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.