The effectiveness of attachment security priming in improving positive affect and reducing negative affect: A systematic review

Angela C M Rowe, Emily R Gold, Katherine B Carnelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Attachment security priming has been extensively used in relationship research to explore the contents of mental models of attachment and examine the benefits derived from enhancing security. This systematic review explores the effectiveness of attachment security priming in improving positive affect and reducing negative affect in adults and children. The review searched four electronic databases for peer reviewed journal articles. Thirty empirical studies met our inclusion criteria, including 28 adult and 2 child and adolescent samples. The findings show that attachment security priming improved positive affect and reduced negative affect relative to control primes. Supraliminal and subliminal primes were equally effective in enhancing security in one-shot prime studies (we only reviewed repeated priming studies using supraliminal primes so could not compare prime types in these). Global attachment style moderated the primed style in approximately half of the studies. Importantly, repeated priming studies showed a cumulative positive effect of security priming over time. We conclude that repeated priming study designs may be the most effective. More research is needed that explores the use of attachment security priming as a possible intervention to improve emotional wellbeing, in particular for adolescents and children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number968
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020

Structured keywords

  • Developmental
  • Cognitive Science

Keywords

  • attachment
  • security
  • security priming
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • positive affect
  • negative affect

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