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Attachment to groups: Theory and


Article in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology July 1999

DOI: 10.1037//0022-3514.77.1.94


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Eliot R Smith
Indiana University Bloomington


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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyriqht 1999 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
1999, Vol. 77, No. 1, 94-110 " 0022-3514/99/S3.00

Attachment to Groups: Theory and Measurement

Eliot R. Smith, Julie Murphy, and Susan Coats

Purdue University

Aspects of people's identification with groups may be understood by borrowing theoretical ideas and
measurement strategies from research on attachment in close relationships. People have mental models
of the self as a group member and of groups as sources of identity and esteem. These models affect
thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to group membership. Three studies show that two dimensions
of attachment to groups, attachment anxiety and avoidance, can be assessed with good reliability,
validity, and over-time stability. These factors are distinct from relationship attachment and from other
measures of group identification. Group attachment predicts several important outcomes, including
emotions concerning the group, time and activities shared with a group, social support, collective
self-esteem, and ways of resolving conflict. This conceptualization provides new insights into the nature
of people's psychological ties to groups.

The social groups with which an individual identifies are key 1998; Smith & Mackie, 1997). Fischer, Higgins, and Pervin (1994)
determinants of many aspects of that individual's thoughts, feel- recently wrote
ings, and social behavior. This insight is central to theoretical
perspectives such as social identity theory and self-categorization increasingly, scholars in social, personality, developmental, cognitive,
and other areas of psychology are moving away from investigating
theory (Abrams & Hogg, 1990). It is also a core aspect of many
limited phenomena and issues constrained by disciplinary boundaries
theories of group cohesion, collective self-esteem, and related
and toward the examination of basic psychological principles. This
constructs. Among its many effects, group identification leads renewed interest in basic principles at multiple levels of analysis can
people to favor fellow group members over nonmembers (Mullen, serve to reunite the field of psychology, (p. v)
Brown, & Smith, 1992), to describe themselves as prototypical
group members (Spears, Doosje, & Ellemers, 1997), and to coop- Many examples of this theoretically integrative approach may
erate with group members, even putting the interests of the group be cited. Perhaps most obviously, researchers in many traditionally
above personal interests (Karau & Williams, 1997; Turner, Hogg, distinct topic areas have applied theories and research methods
Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987). from social cognition to draw conclusions about such issues as
Because of the importance of identification with a group, theo- attitudes (Ostrom, Skowronski, & Nowak, 1994), the self (Linville
rists have advanced a variety of conceptualizations of this phe- & Carlston, 1994), and social influence (Mackie & Skelly, 1994).
nomenon (Jackson & Smith, 1999; Turner et al., 1987). In this As another example, building on the seminal study by Aron, Aron,
article, we argue that adult attachment theory, which has been Tudor, and Nelson (1991) showing that a relationship partner is
prominent in recent years as a theory of interpersonal relationships, mentally represented as part of the self, Smith and Henry (1996)
may be able to shed light on the processes underlying people's showed that in-groups are also incorporated in the self. This article
identification with social groups as well. We have been encour- also draws on theory and research regarding close relationships to
aged to make this argument by the increasing level of conceptual shed light on the nature of people's psychological ties to groups.
integration within social psychology. Traditionally, special- We believe that this theoretically integrative approach may not
purpose theories were constructed for specific topic areas in the only aid in the understanding of group identification but also
field, such as aggression, attitude change, or person perception. illuminate previously unappreciated parallels and similarities be-
However, in recent years researchers and theorists have been tween belonging to a group and participating in an interpersonal
applying concepts and theories developed within one area to shed relationship.
light on important issues in other areas (see Mackie & Smith,
Adult Attachment Theory
Attachment theory attempts to explain the nature of the affective
Eliot R. Smith, Julie Murphy, and Susan Coats, Department of Psycho- bonds we make with others. John Bowlby (1973, 1980, 1982)
logical Sciences, Purdue University. initially postulated that an evolutionarily adaptive attachment sys-
This research was facilitated by Grants R01-MH46840 and K02- tem develops between infants and their primary caregivers and
MH01178 from the National Institute of Mental Health. We are grateful to
keeps infants in proximity to those who protect and nurture them.
Diane Mackie for extensive discussions on the theme of theoretical inte-
Further, Bowlby theorized that early attachment experiences affect
inner "working models" (mental representations or schemas) of the
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Eliot R.
Smith, Department of Psychological Sciences, 1364 Psychological Sci- self as either worthy or unworthy and of others as either depend-
ences Building, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1364. able or undependable. These models in turn influence thoughts,
Electronic mail may be sent to emotions, and behavior in many ways.


Initially, attachment researchers applied Bowlby's insights in general consensus that attachment should be viewed in terms of
examinations of the bonds between infants and their primary two underlying dimensions (see, e.g., Bartholomew & Horowitz,
caregivers, and the effects of these bonds on the infants' behavior 1991; Brennan & Shaver, 1995; Simpson et al., 1992). Even the
and development. Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978) original Ainsworth et al. study demonstrated by discriminant anal-
identified three infant attachment styles: secure, anxious- ysis that the proposed three types could be placed into a two-
ambivalent, and avoidant. These styles correspond to different dimensional space. Similarly, Bartholomew and Horowitz's model
emotional and behavioral responses of infants to brief separations of adult attachment involves two evaluative dimensions (self and
from their mothers or other primary caregivers. Main (1991) and other) that define four quadrants corresponding to distinct (but not
other researchers extended these ideas to later childhood and to qualitatively discrete) types. Two important recent studies wrap up
adults' mental representations of their childhood experiences with the case for dimensional measurement. Fraley and Waller (1998)
their own parents, which have been shown to influence the adults' applied sophisticated analytic techniques and found no evidence
treatment of their own children (van IJzendoorn, 1995). for typological structure in the attachment domain. Brennan et al.
More recently, social and clinical psychologists have turned to (1998) factor analyzed a very large number of measures of
the investigation of the implications of attachment for adults' attachment-related constructs and concluded that they all could be
orientations toward romantic partners. This literature draws on placed into a common two-dimensional space. Brennan et al. and
Ainsworth et al.'s (1978) description of infant attachment styles other researchers (e.g., Simpson et al., 1992) have labeled the two
but otherwise has grown somewhat independently from the devel- dimensions anxiety and avoidance, but we use the terms attach-
opmental research. A seminal article by Hazan and Shaver (1987) ment anxiety and avoidance in the interest of minimizing confu-
identified three adult attachment styles, parallel to Ainsworth's. sion with state anxiety. High values on attachment anxiety corre-
Specifically, secure attachment (to primary caregiver or adult spond to anxious or fearful preoccupation with relationships,
romantic partner) indicates being comfortable with the relationship whereas low values mean relative confidence in acceptance by
without fear of rejection. Mental models represent the self as relationship partners. High values of avoidance correspond to
lovable and other people as generally trustworthy and available. dismissal or avoidance of intimate relationships, and low values, to
Anxious-ambivalent attachment indicates a desire for closeness positive views of dependence and closeness in relationships.
but also a fear of rejection by the relationship partner. Others are
As noted earlier, attachment researchers differ in their emphasis
viewed as inconsistent, and the self is viewed as having little
on early (especially infant-mother) and current (especially adult
control over important outcomes. Avoidant attachment indicates a
romantic) relationships. Similarly, some researchers view attach-
desire to avoid closeness and dependency, stemming from consis-
ment patterns as stable and emphasize the importance of early
tent rejections of attempts at closeness. Models of others as un-
experiences of the infant-caregiver bond in determining adult
trustworthy are developed, and the self may be viewed as auton-
attachment behaviors (e.g., Shaver & Hazan, 1993). However,
omous (not needing closeness) or as undeserving of closeness.
other researchers (e.g., Kobak, 1994; Lewis, 1994) view attach-
Since Hazan and Shaver's (1987) initial analysis of romantic ment styles as more subject to change and believe that important
relationships in terms of attachment theory, a great deal of research relationships later in life can alter one's attachment styles. Most
has explored how adult attachment styles relate to thoughts, feel- recently, Collins and Read (1994) and Baldwin et al. (1996) have
ings, and behaviors in romantic relationships (e.g., Collins & Read, advanced models in which people cannot be characterized by a
1990; Simpson & Rholes, 1998; Simpson, Rholes, & Nelligan, single attachment pattern. Rather, people have mental representa-
1992). In its specific focus on romantic relationships, this social tions (including memories, affective reactions, skills and strate-
psychological literature has de-emphasized early childhood expe- gies, etc.) of various different types of relationships, applicable
riences and lost some of the conceptual breadth of Bowlby's both to people in general and to specific relationship partners.
(1973, 1980, 1982) theoretical ideas. For example, the idea of the These representations may have different levels of accessibility
evolutionary adaptiveness of the attachment system receives little
depending on their recency and frequency of activation (Higgins,
emphasis in most conceptualizations of romantic attachment (see
1996), and more than one may affect responses in ongoing or
Kirkpatrick, 1998, for an exception). This research has, however,
newly formed relationships. However, one would expect
preserved Bowlby's notion of working models of relationships as
relationship-specific representations to have stronger effects than
mediators of attachment orientations and has assumed that, like
general ones on behaviors and feelings in a particular relationship
other mental representations, they can be assessed by self-report
(Collins & Read, 1994).
questionnaires (Baldwin, Keelan, Fehr, Enns, & Koh-Rangarajoo,
1996; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998; Collins & Read, 1994). An
impressive body of research has indeed demonstrated that attach-
Attachment to Groups
ment dimensions or discrete styles can be measured by self-report
and relate in theoretically predictable ways to emotions and be- There are, of course, fundamental differences between interper-
haviors in relationships and to important relationship outcomes sonal and group relationships. For example, Insko and Schopler
(Reis & Patrick, 1996). For example, Simpson (1990) found that (1998) found a clear discontinuity between patterns of relation-
securely attached individuals reported greater trust, satisfaction, ships between individuals and between groups, with the latter
commitment, and interdependence in their romantic relationships,
being more negative, competitive, and abrasive. We also suspect
compared with individuals with other attachment styles.
that close personal relationships, particularly romantic relation-
Though the earlier literature often followed Ainsworth et al. ships, are more central to many people's lives than are their
(1978) and Hazan and Shaver (1987) in conceptualizing attach- relationships with groups such as fraternities, sports teams, and
ment as involving discrete types, current research has attained a study groups. Thus, relationship attachment might often have

stronger implications than group attachment for self-esteem, life in group attachment, having a sense of being a worthy group
satisfaction, and similar variables. member combined with the expectation that groups are generally
Despite such differences, central aspects of the conceptualiza- valuable and accepting. However, consistent with recent ap-
tion underlying adult attachment theory may be relevant to under- proaches in relationship attachment theory, we assume that attach-
standing people's psychological ties to their groups, in a way that ment to groups is defined by the two continuous underlying
complements existing models of group identification. Those mod- dimensions rather than by three or four discrete types or styles
els focus either on liking for other individual group members or on (Fraley & Waller, 1998).
identification with the group as a whole (see Turner et al., 1987). Are attachment to relationship partners and to groups concep-
More recent accounts emphasize the individual's identification tually the same thing? Theory strongly implies a negative answer.
with the group as a whole and the incorporation of the group into Despite the emphasis of some theorists on a single relationship
the self (Hogg & Hardie, 1991; Smith & Henry, 1996). This attachment style assumed to characterize each individual, research-
approach has empirical support; for example, researchers have ers have found that some individuals have different attachment
found that group formation can occur independent of interpersonal patterns for each parent (Fox, Kimmerly, & Schafer, 1991). As
attraction (see, e.g., Billig & Tajfel, 1973) and that popularity noted earlier, recent work on romantic attachments also affirms
within a group is more closely related to group prototypicality than that people have multiple models that can shift in accessibility and
to personal attraction (Hogg & Hardie, 1991). Group-based and apply to specific relationships (Baldwin et al., 1996; Collins &
interpersonal accounts of group identification are similar, how- Read, 1994). Further, the needs and goals that people meet through
ever, in that they both conceptualize group identification as a personal relationships and through group membership are quite
single dimension, reflecting an overall favorable or unfavorable distinct, and correspondingly, people have distinct individual, re-
view of the group or its members. Empirically, measures of group lational, and group-based self-aspects (Brewer & Gardner, 1996).
cohesion (or attraction to the group) and group identification show For these reasons, a clear prediction is that relationship attachment
little discriminant validity, loading on the same second-order fac- and group attachment should each carry substantial unique vari-
tors in Jackson and Smith's (1999) analyses. ance. However, such basic orientations as self-esteem and general
Attachment theory suggests a different conceptualization of views of others' trustworthiness should influence attachment in
people's psychological ties to groups. As outlined earlier, Collins both group and relationship contexts, producing some positive
and Read (1994) and Baldwin et al. (1996) held that people have correlation between these constructs.
multiple mental models, varying in accessibility, reflecting differ- The conceptual links between attachment to individuals and
ent attachment patterns that they have imagined or experienced in attachment to groups go beyond the perhaps superficial observa-
past personal relationships. We propose that people also have tion that people may have orientations toward both that vary in
models of themselves as group members and models of groups that terms of attachment anxiety and avoidance. From an evolutionary
in combination affect their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors standpoint, closeness and dependence on groups is arguably as
regarding group memberships. For example, the self might be fundamental an issue as closeness to an individual caregiver. As
viewed as a good team player or as a loner who does not need or many evolutionary theorists have noted, our humanoid ancestors
want group memberships. Groups in general, or specific known could not have survived outside of the group any more than an
groups, might be viewed as warmly accepting or as likely to coerce infant can survive without parental care (Caporael, 1997; Caporael
or reject the self. These basic orientations, like patterns of rela- & Baron, 1997). As a result of this fact, Baumeister and Leary
tionship attachment, might be influenced by early experiences, (1995) argued that closeness and belongingness is a fundamental
particularly in the family or peer groups in childhood, as well as by human need. Their conceptualization includes not only dyadic
current experiences of adult group memberships. In turn, these relationships but also group memberships, and the evidence they
mental models should strongly influence people's subjective reac- cite includes people's tendency to evaluate an in-group positively
tions to being part of a group, as well as their behaviors and even when group membership is defined by a trivial or random
orientations toward the group. characteristic (Billig & Tajfel, 1973).
Specifically, we hypothesize that attachment to groups has two Because of the fundamental importance of group memberships,
underlying dimensions that, like those involved in relationship it is plausible that psychological systems evolved to regulate
attachment, may be termed attachment anxiety and avoidance. An closeness and dependence on groups, just as attachment theory
individual who is high in group attachment anxiety should have a describes a system that regulates closeness to individual relation-
sense of being unworthy as a group member and feelings of worry ship partners. In Reis and Patrick's (1996) summary, attachment
and concern regarding acceptance by valued groups and, as a incorporates subsystems such as emotional disclosure, support
result, should tend to try to please groups and fit in. (e.g., by seeking, and responsiveness, which are affected by prior experi-
conforming). People who are low in attachment anxiety should ences and affect preferences, capacities, and expectations for later
expect groups to be accepting and should be less concerned (emo- relationships. Exactly the same subsystems and functions are im-
tionally and behaviorally) with trying to win approval. Someone plicated in people's relationships with groups. Mental models of
who is high in avoidance should tend to view closeness to groups the self (as a group member) and of groups develop to influence
as unnecessary or undesirable, and may act aloof and independent, emotions (such as feelings of warmth and security due to group
tending to avoid closeness to or dependence on groups. Someone acceptance or anxiety and shame when acceptance is doubtful or
who is low in avoidance should accept dependence and intimacy denied) and behavioral tendencies to be emotionally open, to seek
with groups as a positive value and should act to increase and support, or generally to approach or avoid the group. Obviously,
maintain this type of closeness. Note that people who are relatively testing these ideas in all their breadth goes far beyond what is
low on both of these dimensions could be characterized as secure possible in a single article. We wish here simply to point out that

the broader background theory behind the notion of relationship about participants' experiences in social groups (either for their most
attachment, which emphasizes its potential evolutionary basis and important social group or in general), each with a 7-point Likert-type
its functionality in regulating proximity in close relationships, may responses scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
be equally applicable to attachment to groups. We return to these Sample items include "I know that my group(s) will be there when I need
themes in the General Discussion section. it (them)," "I often worry my group(s) will not always want me as a
member," and "Often my group (the groups that I belong to) wants me to
Our goal in this article is to develop a measurement instrument be more open about my thoughts and feelings than I feel comfortable
based on this conceptualization and to begin examining implica- being."
tions of different patterns of attachment to groups and exploring Feeling thermometer. Participants' evaluations of their social groups
conceptual parallels between relationship and group attachment. (either most important or in general) were measured with a feeling ther-
The approach we take is to develop indexes of group attachment mometer (Campbell, 1971), a simple measure on which people indicate a
by analogy to existing measures of relationship attachment. We number between 0 (extremely unfavorable/cold) and 100 (extremely favor-
establish the basic psychometric properties of our measure, such as able/warm) to indicate how favorable and warm they feel toward their
reliability and stability. We assess the measure's convergent va- group.
lidity by relating it to other measures of orientation toward groups Group conflict inventory. Participants' styles of dealing with conflict
and assess its discriminant validity by showing that group attach- in social groups (either most important or in general) were measured using
ment is not the same thing as relationship attachment. We also see items selected from the Rahim Organizational Conflict InventoryII (Ra-
him, 1983). This measure includes five subscales assessing distinct ways of
whether the new measure predicts conceptually important out-
handling conflict within groups, with reported alphas mostly in the high
comes related to group membership above and beyond the predic-
.70s and test-retest correlations ranging from .60 to .83. We selected just
tive power of conventional measures of group identification. one item per subscale. Two sample items are "I try to work with my group
for a proper understanding of a problem" and "I try to keep my disagree-
Study 1 ment with my group to myself in order to avoid hard feelings." Participants
were asked to rate how much each item described their manner of handling
Method conflict in their social group or groups using a 7-point Likert-type scale
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
The purposes of the first study were to construct a measure of attachment Behavioral engagement with group. We also included four questions
to social groups and to examine its discriminant and concurrent validity in about the quantity and range of participants' interaction with their social
relation to a romantic partner attachment scale and participants' reported groups (either most important or in general). Specifically, we asked how
evaluations of their social group. many hours a week they spent with their social group or groups and to rate
on a 7-point Likert-type scale whether they felt that this was not enough
Participants time (1) to too much time (7). In addition, we asked how many different
activities, they participate in with their social group or groups during an
One hundred thirty-two undergraduates (gender not recorded) enrolled average week and to rate on a 7-point Likert-type scale whether they felt
in an introductory psychology course at Purdue University participated in that this was not enough activities (1) to too many activities (7).
this study in partial fulfillment of a course research requirement. Collective self-esteem. We measured participants' collective self-
esteem with regard to their social groups (either most important or in
Materials general) using a modified version of the Collective Self-Esteem Scale
(CSES; Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992). The CSES contains 16 items, rated on
Romantic Partner Attachment Scale. We measured attachment to ro- a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strong-
mantic partners by having participants rate 25 items about their experiences ly agree). We modified the instructions and the items to refer either to their
in romantic love relationships in general, using a 7-point Likert-type scale social group memberships in general or to their membership in their most
ranging from 1 {strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). This scale important social group. The CSES includes four 4-item subscales, with
contains items drawn from Collins and Read's attachment scale (1990) and reported reliabilities ranging from .85 to .88. The Member subscale mea-
Bartholomew and Horowitz's attachment style self-report prototypes sures individuals' judgments of worthiness as group members (e.g., "I am
(1991).1 The items include some intended to measure secure attachment, a worthy member of the social groups I belong to"), the Private subscale
such as "I know that others will be there when I need them." Other items assesses personal judgments of the value of groups (e.g., "I feel good about
tap anxiety and concern about acceptance, such as "I often worry my the social groups I belong to"), the Public subscale taps perceptions of
partner will not want to stay with me," and still others measure rejection of others' judgments of the worth of one's groups (e.g., "In general, others
intimacy, such as "Often love partners want me to be more intimate than respect the social groups I belong to"), and the Identity subscale measures
I feel comfortable being." the importance of social group memberships to one's self-concept (e.g.,
Social Group Attachment Scale. We created a measure of attachment "The social groups I belong to are an important reflection of who I am").
to social groups (see Appendix) by modifying the Romantic Partner At-
tachment Scale described above to refer to participants' social groups. That
is, we modified the instructions and reworded each item to refer to Procedure
participants' experiences with their social groups, rather than their expe-
riences with romantic partners. We created two versions of the Social In groups of 5-10, participants were told that they would fill out a series
Group Attachment Scale: The first version refers to the participants' most of questionnaires concerning their thoughts and feelings about their group
important social group, and the second version refers to the participants' memberships and romantic relationships. They were assured that their
social groups in general. Measures of relationship attachment vary in responses would be completely confidential. Participants were then given
whether they ask about participants' relationships in general or whether
they focus on a specific current relationship (cf. Simpson et al., 1992, vs.
Hazan & Shaver, 1987, as examples), and thus we decided to empirically 1
We wished to use more items than the 18 included in Collins and
examine both general- and specific-group attachment measures. Read's scale for adequate reliability, so we selected additional nonover-
The measure of attachment to social groups included 25 items asking lapping items from a second scale.

a questionnaire packet that included the measures described above. Half of of attachment to groups, as outlined above. Both scales correlated
the participants were asked about the social group that is most important to with the Private and Public subscales of the CSES, indicating that
them, and half were asked about their social groups in general. The both relate to general evaluations of the group. Attachment Anx-
questionnaires were ordered in the packet in the same sequence as just
iety correlated strongly negatively with the Member subscale. This
described, except that the Romantic Partner Attachment Scale and Social
Group Attachment Scale had their order randomly varied. Upon comple- pattern fits theoretical expectations: People who are especially
tion of the questionnaire packet, participants were completely debriefed, anxious about being accepted by their groups should be particu-
thanked for their participation, and dismissed. larly low on a measure of their own perceived worthiness as group
members. Those high in Attachment Anxiety also tended to spend
Results less time and share fewer activities with their groups. In dealing
with group conflicts, participants high in Attachment Anxiety
Factor Analyses reported that they kept their disagreements under wraps, an ap-
We factor analyzed the 25 items separately for the two sub- proach to handling conflict that involves subordinating personal
samples who responded for groups in general and for a specific wishes and goals in favor of the group. Feeney (1995) found
group. The results of this analysis are not reported in detail here similar behaviors reported by anxious individuals in their personal
because it is replicated with a much larger sample size in the relationships.
Time 1 sample from Study 2 (shown in Table 4), and fuller Avoidance also showed theoretically expected correlations. It
description of the results is given at that point.2 Briefly, principal- correlated negatively with the Identity CSES subscale, consistent
components factor analysis found two factors for both the specific- with the idea that people who tend to avoid closeness with groups
group and groups-in-general versions of the scale. In both analy- should be particularly inclined to disagree with the idea that the
ses, varimax rotation produced a factor with Items 10, 21, 12, group is an important component of their identity. In conflict
and 18 at the positive end and 25, 16, and 23 at the negative end situations, participants high in Avoidance were unlikely to work
(see Appendix for wordings), which we label Attachment Anxiety,
with the group or accommodate the group's wishes. These partic-
and a second orthogonal factor with Items 1, 2, 11, and 9 ver-
ipants seem to feel less need to give in or cooperate with the group,
sus 20, 22, and 3, labeled Avoidance. The interpretation of the
presumably because of their lower felt need for the group as a
factors and the rationale for these labels are discussed fully in the
source of identity and meaning. The other two conflict style items
context of the replication of this analysis in Study 2.
showed no significant correlations with our group attachment
scales. These measures involved seeking to influence others and
Concurrent Validity proposing a middle ground to break deadlocks.
For use in further analyses, two factor scores were calculated to In summary, the measures of attachment anxiety and avoidance
summarize the 25 individual items. Estimated reliabilities of the related to these other variables in conceptually meaningful ways.
factor scores (Armor, 1974) ranged from .75 to .91 (see Table 1) As predicted, both attachment anxiety and avoidance were asso-
and were somewhat higher for the specific-group than for the ciated with lower overall evaluations of the group, as assessed by
groups-in-general version of the questionnaire. Correlations be- the feeling thermometer and the Private and Public CSES sub-
tween the factor scores for the specific-group target and the feeling scales. The pattern of significant correlations suggests that partic-
thermometer rating of the group, the collective self-esteem mea- ipants high in attachment anxiety are concerned about acceptance
sures, and the group conflict items are displayed in Table 2. (The by their groups, so they tend to accommodate in situations of
correlations for the groups-in-general version of the questionnaire conflict. Participants high in avoidance seem to depend less on
were all in the same direction but weaker, with only 5 of the 22 groups as a source of identity and therefore feel little need to give
correlations shown in the table remaining significant.) in to the group's wishes. Unfortunately, because of the small
The pattern of correlations lends initial support to the concep- sample size in Study 1, the difference between the Attachment
tualization of two independent anxiety and avoidance dimensions Anxiety and Avoidance factors' relationships to the other variables
shown in Table 1 was significant only for the feeling thermometer,
F(l, 58) = 4.14, p < .05; the following studies, with larger
Table 1 samples, will provide further construct validity evidence for our
Basic Psychometric Statistics on Two Group Attachment scales.
Factors (Studies 1 and 2)

We wished to numerically quantify the correspondence between the
Statistic N Anxiety Avoidance factor analysis results in Study 1 and Study 2 (see Gorsuch, 1974, Chapter
13). To do so, we calculated factor scores for each participant in the large
Reliability Study 2 sample using the factor score coefficients obtained from the
Study 1, general 66 .86 .75 Study 1 subsample that answered questions about their most important
Study 1, specific group 66 .91 .80 group (the same items used in Study 2). These scores correlated extremely
Study 2, Time 1 231 .88 .84 highly with the corresponding factor scores from the Study 2 analysis at
Test-retest correlation greater than .95 for both factors. Given this near-identity between the two
Study 2 60 .80 .73 analyses, it seems unnecessary to report the results from the smaller
Study 2, corrected for reliability 60 .90 .87 Study 1 sample in detail.

Table 2
Correlations of Feelings and Behaviors Toward Group With Two Group Attachment Factors
(Study 1, Specific Group Target, N = 65; and Study 2, Time 1, N = 231)

Study 1 Study 2

Attachment Attachment
Variable Anxiety Avoidance Anxiety Avoidance

Feeling thermometer rating -.58*** .29* -.43*** -.56***

Private CSES score -.58*** _ 35*** __ 34*** -.40***
Public CSES score -.35** -.30* 22*** -.16*
Member subscale CSES score 45*** -.20
Identity subscale CSES score -.16 -.46***
CSES total score -.48*** 45***
Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale score 45*** -.13*
No. of activities with group -.31* -.15
Time spent with group -.27* -.11
Work with group to solve conflict -.38** 49***
Keep disagreements to self to avoid conflict .32* .14
Accommodate wish of group to avoid conflict .18 -.35**

Note. CSES = Collective Self-Esteem Scale.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

Discriminant Validity chance expectation of 5%. As another approach to the same issue,
we conducted multiple regressions in the same sample, using the
We correlated the two group attachment factors with the two
two group attachment factors and the two relationship attachment
factors derived from the 25 Romantic Partner Attachment Scale
items. That factor analysis also produced two factors, which, factors as independent variables, for each dependent variable
replicating factor analytic studies in the relationships domain (e.g., shown in Table 2. With only two exceptions, each significant
Brennan et al., 1998), were readily interpretable as Attachment correlation in Table 2 corresponded to a significant partial regres-
Anxiety and Avoidance. For the specific group target, group sion coefficient in these analyses, indicating that the group attach-
Attachment Anxiety correlated .46 with relationship Attachment ment variables generally continue to relate to these other con-
Anxiety and .15 with relationship Avoidance; for group Avoid- structs even when the relationship attachment measures are
ance the correlations were .02 and .33, respectively. For groups statistically controlled. In contrast, of the 22 regression coeffi-
in general, group Attachment Anxiety correlated .70 with relation- cients for relationship attachment (2 factors X 11 analyses) only
ship Attachment Anxiety and .07 with relationship Avoidance; for one was significant, at about the chance expectation level.3 Group
group Avoidance the correlations were .03 and .41, respectively. attachment therefore shows specific, theoretically expected corre-
All four of the correlations between corresponding constructs for lations with these dependent variables that are not shared by
the group and relationship levels were positive and significant, but relationship attachment and that hold up when relationship attach-
correlations were smaller for the specific-group target than for ment is controlled. Thus, group attachment is found to have
groups in general. Given the assumption that people have different
discriminant as well as convergent validity.
types of mental attachment models varying in specificity and
accessibility (Baldwin et al., 1996; Collins & Read, 1994), this
pattern fits theoretical expectations. Responses to groups in gen-
eral should reflect general expectations and orientations toward We wished to show that controlling for relationship variables has no
interpersonal relationships to a greater extent than do responses for effect on the correlations in Table 2, but this analysis also involves
a specific, well-known group. These correlations also suggest that controlling for a scale with a different level of specificity (our relationship
group attachment is not identical to relationship attachment. Peo- measure assessed attachment in relationships in general). The zero-order
ple's conceptions of themselves and their relationships to groups correlations of the groups-in-general scales with the indicators of experi-
ences with specific groups are lower than those of the specific-groups
do not necessarily parallel their beliefs about themselves and their
scales, as stated in the text. But if these regressions are rerun using the
romantic partners. participants who completed the groups-in-general scales, the results are as
To further assess discriminant validity, we examined correla- follows: Of the correlations shown in Table 2, 5 are significant (compared
tions between the relationship attachment scales and the other with 16 with specific groups); 4 regression coefficients remain significant
when relationship scales as well as these groups-in-general scales are put
variables listed in Table 2. We used the subsample who completed
into the regressions; the relationship scales have no significant effects in
the group questionnaire for a specific group, the same sample these same regressions. So though the groups-in-general scales have much
whose results are shown in Table 2. In contrast to the strong and weaker relations to the row variables in Table 2, the conclusions with
generally significant correlations between those variables and respect to discriminant validity are the same: Controlling for relationship
group attachment, correlations with relationship attachment were measures does not have much impact on the number of significant effects,
quite weak. None of the 22 correlations (2 relationship attachment and the relationship measures themselves do not have notable effects on
factors X 11 dependent variables) was significant, less than the these variables.

Discussion above. It was explained that there were written instructions for each section
of the questionnaire and that they could raise their hands if they had any
The preliminary psychometric results are encouraging. The questions. Included in the instructions of each section of the questionnaire
measure of group attachment showed theoretically predicted inter- was the request for the participant to write their most important group in
nal structure (a two-dimensional factor structure), had good reli- the space provided below the instructions. The experimenter assured the
ability, and correlated in expected ways with other variables as- participants that all their responses would be confidential. The order of the
sessing people's psychological ties to and behaviors with their questionnaires in the booklet was as follows: (a) group attachment ques-
groups. Moreover, group attachment is empirically (as well as tionnaire, (b) feeling thermometer, (c) Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory,
(d) group conflict scale, and (e) CSES. The first page of the questionnaire
conceptually) distinct from attachment in personal romantic rela-
booklet informed participants of the opportunity to take part in additional
tionships. All of these findings point to the construct validity of
follow-up studies that would be conducted throughout the course of the
these measures. For further research, we select the specific-group semester. If interested, participants were asked to provide their phone
version of the group attachment questionnaire in preference to the numbers. After completing the questionnaire packet, participants were
groups-in-general version. This choice is based empirically on the debriefed, thanked for their participation, and dismissed.
former's better reliability (see Table 1) and validity (i.e., the Time 2 data collection. Beginning 9 weeks after the pretesting ses-
specific-group version has both higher correlations with the theo- sions, the experimenters called participants who had agreed to be contacted
retically related variables as shown in Table 2 and lower correla- for additional studies.4 After telling the participant that the caller was part
tions with relationship attachment). The choice also reflects theo- of a research team investigating group attachment and giving a brief
retical considerations, including the notion that people have description of the study, the caller asked the participant whether he or she
multiple attachment representations varying in accessibility, but was interested in taking part in the follow-up study. Those who responded
with more specific ones more apt to affect feelings and behaviors positively were scheduled for an appointment. All returning participants
were retested between 9 and 17 weeks after the first session.
with respect to particular relationships (Baldwin et al., 1996;
Collins & Read, 1994). Participants arrived in the lab either individually or in groups of 2 or 3.
They received a questionnaire booklet that was nearly identical to the one
they had received during the pretesting session. The only difference in the
Study 2 booklets was that instead of asking participants to choose their most
important group, the experimenter wrote in the group that the participants
Our goal for the second study was to replicate the factor had reported as being their most important during the first session. Partic-
analyses, reliabilities, and other cross-sectional analyses from ipants were instructed to respond to the questions on the basis of how they
Study 1 with a larger sample. We also wanted to bring back a currently felt toward this same group. Instructions on each section of the
questionnaire were modified accordingly, and the particular group the
subset of participants to estimate test-retest stabilities and
participant had listed during the pretesting session was written directly
predictive validity of the group attachment scales over a 2-4 below each set of instructions. The wording of the questions and the order
month time period. of the questionnaires were the same as in the first session. The question-
naire packet was covered with a cover page that contained only a partic-
Method ipant number so as to maintain participants' confidentiality. After com-
pleting the questionnaire, participants were debriefed, thanked, and, for
Participants those who chose to receive payment rather than credit, paid.

Participants were 231 introductory psychology students (gender was not

recorded) who took part in a mass pretesting session held at the beginning Results
of the semester. Participants partially fulfilled a course requirement by
attending the pretesting session. Sixty of these students were later con- Factor Analysis
tacted by phone and agreed to participate in the second phase of our study
in exchange for either partial fulfillment of course requirement or for $3. Factor analytic results are shown in Table 3. In preparation for
this analysis, for 5 participants who failed to answer just one of
the 25 items, we replaced these missing values with the item mean
across all participants so that these observations could be used in
The materials were similar to those used in the first study, except that all the analysis. Three additional participants who failed to answer
measures focused on participants' single most important group (rather than more than one item were not included, so this analysis had a
their social groups in general). The most-important-group version of the
Social Group Attachment Scale, feeling thermometer, and group conflict
inventory measures described, above were used. An abbreviated version of 4
Because the Time 1 sample was heavily skewed toward low values on
the CSES was also included, consisting of 7 items from the Public and both attachment anxiety and avoidance, we focused our calls on partici-
Private subscales. (The other two CSES subscales were omitted to mini- pants who were relatively high on those factors, to obtain a Time 2 sample
mize the amount of time required of participants.) For this study, we also with adequate variance. The participants who actually returned at Time 2
administered the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory, a widely used 10-item had, as intended, a significantly higher mean on attachment anxiety (+.30
scale assessing feelings of global self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965). A sample vs. .10 on the standardized score) than the Time 1 participants who did
item is "I feel useless at times." Participants responded to each item on a not participate at Time 2, and were also nonsignificantly higher on avoid-
7-point scale. ance. There was no significant difference on any of the other key variables
in this study: Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale scores; the Private subscale,
Public subscale, or total CSES scores; or feeling thermometer ratings of
Procedure their group. This selection for increased variance on the independent
Time 1 data collection. Participants reported to a large room in groups variables boosts statistical power for the over-time analyses without bias-
of 5-20. They were each given a booklet containing the measures described ing regression coefficients.

Table 3
Factor Analysis Results on 25 Group Attachment Items (Study 2, Time 1, N = 231)

Factor 1 Factor 2
Item (Attachment Anxiety) (Avoidance)
number Item description (see Appendix for exact wording) loading loading

12 Worry G will not want me (ANX-8) .78

21 Worry G does not value me (ANX-6) .78
10 Worry that G does not accept me .75
24 Want closeness but cannot trust G .65
18 Cannot always depend on G .60
19 G wants me to be more open than I am comfortable with .53
17 G is reluctant to get as close as I like (ANX-26) .51
2 Worry I may be hurt if too close to G .50
25 No worry about being abandoned by G (ANX-22) -.68
16 No worry about not being accepted by G (ANX-22) -.69
9 Prefer not to depend on G .70
11 Comfortable not being close to G (AV-3) .68
1 Difficult to depend on G (AV-21) .66
14 G is never there when I need it .58
15 Difficult to trust G .50 .57
13 Uncomfortable being close to G (AV-3) .54
23 G will be there when I need it -.58
4 Easy to get close to G (AV-19) -.60
22 Comfortable depending on G (AV-29) -.62
3 Want to feel at one with G -.74
5 No worry about G getting too close to me
6 Important for me to feel independent
7 Nervous when G gets too close (AV-13)
8 Desire to feel at one sometimes scares G away (ANX-16)
20 Comfortable having G depend on me

Note. Only loadings (standardized regression coefficients) with an absolute value of .5 or greater are shown. G = group; items also found in scales
recommended by Brennan et al. (1998) are labeled AV- (item number from their avoidance scale) and ANX- (item number from their anxiety scale).

sample size of 228. We used principal-components analysis fol- the specific group target. The table also shows over-time correla-
lowed by an orthogonal (varimax) rotation.5 (As mentioned earlier, tions for the factors. These were high, in the .80 range. For
the same analysis performed on the smaller Study 1 sample gave comparison, the feeling thermometer rating of the most important
highly similar results.) Theoretical considerations (Brennan et al., group had an over-time correlation of .56, and collective self-
1998) and the similar two-factor solution found in Study 1, sup- esteem, .68, both lower values. Only the Rosenberg Self-Esteem
ported by a scree test, led us to use two factors, which accounted Scale had a higher test-retest correlation (.85). Disattenuating the
for 45% of the total variance in the 25 items (first several eigen- over-time factor correlations by dividing by their estimated reli-
values are 9.05, 2.27, 1.49, 1.22, 1.06, and 1.00). To interpret the
rotated factors, note the variables that mark each end of each
factor. On Factor 1, the items with positive loadings (such as 12, 5
Our decision to use orthogonal rotations in these studies is based on (a)
21, 10, and 24) carry a theme of worry about being accepted and the typical finding in the relationship literature that attachment anxiety and
valued by the group. The negative items 23, 16, and 25 proclaim avoidance are almost uncorrelated (see Brennan et al., 1998) and (b) the
confidence in acceptance by the group. This factor corresponds superior conceptual interpretability provided by two orthogonal factors
well to the theoretical construct of anxious attachment as described compared to correlated factors (e.g., Nunnally, 1978, p. 376). For example,
by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) or Simpson et al. (1992) and if a third variable is found to correlate with both factors, one does not have
to wonder whether this pattern merely reflects the correlation between the
we therefore label it Attachment Anxiety. On Factor 2, the positive
factors themselves. However, to assure readers that our choice of orthog-
items 9, 11, and 1 involve valuing and preferring independence onal rotation did not influence our substantive findings, we repeated the
and low levels of intimacy with a group, whereas the negative factor analyses of Study 2 and Study 3 with oblique (promax) rotations.
items 3, 22, 4, and 23 all carry the idea of desiring closeness and Attachment Anxiety and Avoidance factors were readily identified in these
dependence. This factor therefore corresponds to the construct analyses, and correlated .45 (Study 2) and .49 (Study 3). Using these
labeled avoidance by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991), Simpson correlated factor scores in the other analyses reported in this article pro-
et al. (1992), and Brennan et al. (1998). duced no substantive differences in the results. Minor differences include:
slightly lower over-time correlations of the factors in Study 2 (see Table 1;
The two factors are orthogonal in this solution, and the factor values are .76 and .71), and slight drop-off in the significance of the
analysis produced a very clean separation of the variables between coefficient of Avoidance for Private subscale of the CSES (see Table 4;
the two factors; only one of the 25 variables had loadings reaching coefficient is -2.28,/> < .07) and in the coefficient of Attachment Anxiety
.50 on both factors (and it was just .50). Five items had low for number of supports (see Table 6; coefficient is - .32, p < .07). All other
loadings on both factors. findings remained essentially unchanged, pointing to the robustness of
Table 1 displays the estimated reliabilities (Armor, 1974) of the these results across different ways of calculating the scale scores (orthog-
two factors, which were similar to those obtained in Study 1 with onal or correlated).

Table 4
Over-Time Regressions Predicting Time 2 Dependent Variables From Two Group Attachment
Factors, Lagged (Time I) Dependent Variable and Group Type (Study 2, N = 60)

Rosenberg Self-
Feeling thermometer Private CSES score Esteem Scale score

Independent variable B B P B

Attachment Anxiety -3.08* -.28 -1.22 -.13 0.02 .02

Avoidance -1.65 -.14 -2.38* -.24 -0.16* -.15
Lagged dependent variables 0.30*** .40 0.37*** .53 0.84*** .87

Note. R2 = .60 for feeling thermometer, .49 for Private CSES score, and .76 for Rosenberg Self-Esteera Scale
score. Each column represents a regression equation, with the dependent variable shown at the top of the table
and the independent variables on the left.
*p < .05. ***p < .001.

abilities yields stability estimates near .90 for both factors over a so forth. Its effects on the dependent variables (such as the feeling
2-4 month period (see Table 1). All of these results lend strong thermometer) are not of theoretical interest and are not shown.
support to the basic psychometric properties of the scales: The two (Note that group was unrelated to Attachment Anxiety and
dimensions of group attachment can be measured reliably and Avoidance.)
show a high degree of stability across a moderate length of time of The results of these regressions are shown in Table 4. (The
2-4 months. Public CSES subscale had no significant relationships to the at-
tachment factors, so its results are not tabulated.) The regressions
Concurrent Validity suggest first that these three dependent measures were relatively
stable over time, as revealed by the highly significant and positive
Correlations like those computed in Study 1 are displayed in effects of the lagged variables. This was particularly true of self-
Table 2 for the measures included in this study. The results are esteem. Attachment Anxiety was associated with lower scores on
similar to those of the first study and, as discussed above, generally the feeling thermometer at a later time; people who were con-
suggest that both Attachment Anxiety and Avoidance correlate cerned about group acceptance at Time 1 tended to reduce their
with lower evaluations of one's important groups (assessed by the levels of warm feelings toward the group over the ensuing
feeling thermometer and Private and Public subscales of the months.6 The Avoidance factor was associated with later reduc-
CSES). tions in private collective self-esteem (the personal evaluation of
Table 2 also shows correlations between the group attachment the group's value and status) as well as in personal self-esteem as
factors and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. As expected, the measured by the Rosenberg scale. The presence of these signifi-
Attachment Anxiety factor, which taps a feeling of concern about cant effects is impressive, given the small size of our longitudinal
acceptance by the group, is significantly more strongly related to sample (only 60 participants) and the high stability of the Rosen-
low self-esteem than is the Avoidance factor, F(l, 225) = 13.89, berg scale in particular (with a test-retest correlation of .85).
p < .001. This is the theoretically predicted pattern. Though causal inferences from over-time regressions cannot be as
firm as those from manipulational studies, it appears that people's
Predictive Validity attachment patterns to their group have effects on their individual
and collective self-esteem as well as evaluations of their groups
Finally, we performed regressions predicting several Time 2 over a period of a few months.
dependent variables (feeling thermometer rating, the CSES mea-
sures, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) from the two Time 1
attachment factors, as well as the lagged (Time 1) dependent Discussion
variables. The rationale for this model specification is as follows. The results from Study 2 confirm and extend the findings from
Simply regressing the Time 2 dependent variable on the Time 1 Study 1 on the generally good psychometric properties of our
independent variables allows for the possibility of spuriousness
(other factors may affect both the independent and dependent
variables and therefore inflate their relationships). Adding the In this regression, one case was found to be an extreme outlier
lagged (Time 1) dependent variable as a predictor effectively (studentized residual >3.9O, p < .00001; diffits = 1.64; SAS Institute,
controls for the possibility of such spurious relationships, and 1990, Chapter 36). Therefore the case was excluded from the analysis
reported in the table. However, proper treatment of outliers is a matter of
allows us to more purely assess the causal impact of the Time 1
judgment; if the case is included the results are R2 = .51 (a notable drop),
independent variables on the Time 2 dependent variable, with the effect of Attachment Anxiety = -2.45 (p < .07), Avoidance = -2.61
causal process assumed to occur over time. A categorical variable (p < .07), lagged dependent variable = .28 (p < .05). Thus the reader
reflecting what type of group the participant was considering is may wish to bear in mind that the larger relationship of Attachment
also included in these analyses as an independent variable, to Anxiety than of Avoidance to changes in the feeling thermometer rating
control for overall differences in people's feelings about different depends on how the extreme outlier is treated; if it is included, the
types of groups, such as fraternities, roommates, sports teams, and coefficients are more nearly equal.

measure of group attachment. The high reliabilities of the factor noncorresponding theoretical factors are lower than the correlation
scores were demonstrated in the large Time 1 sample, and the between the two theoretical factors themselves in this sample.
measures were found to be stable over a 2-4-month time period.
Stability of the group attachment measures was notably higher
than that of several other measures included in our study and even Study 3
approached the stability of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
We conducted a third study with several goals in mind. We
Other aspects of the Study 2 findings support the validity of
wanted to obtain a sample of participants who were all considering
these measures. First, analyses revealed the hypothesized two-
the same type of group to increase statistical power by reducing the
factor structure, corresponding to the dimensions found to underlie
extraneous variance due to different people thinking of different
forms of relationship attachment (Brennan et al., 1998). Second,
types of groups. We chose to use fraternities and sororities, groups
the measures continued to show concurrent and predictive validity.
that are quite significant to their members. We also wanted to
Measures of group attachment even passed the stringent test of
include additional measures, in order to examine the relationships
predicting changes over time in key outcome measures such as
of group attachment to standard measures of group identification
overall feelings toward the group and aspects of collective and
and to a wider range of dependent variables, including emotional
personal self-esteem.
reactions to group membership, social support, and commitment to
To give further evidence as to the construct validity of our two the group. Finally, we wished to investigate the possibility of
factors, we turned to the results of the study by Brennan et al. compensatory trade-offs between group attachment and romantic
(1998). These researchers administered over 60 relationship- relationships. Do participants who are in romantic relationships
attachment-related subscales to a massive sample of over 1,000 generally seek less closeness to their groups, for example, or are
and found two general factors, which they termed anxiety and relationship and group processes largely independent of each
avoidance. In an appendix of their article they recommended the other?
best items for measuring those factors. Some of these items cor-
On the basis of the relationship attachment literature, we were
respond closely to some of those in our measure, with wording
able to formulate specific hypotheses for the additional dependent
changes ranging from the minimum possible (e.g., changing only
variables used in this study. Theoretically, one important function
from "my romantic partner" to "my group") to minor changes that
of attachment is regulation of emotion and emotional expression,
preserve meaning (e.g., negating the statement). Examples of
especially emotions related to closeness, separation, intimacy, and
corresponding items are our Item 1, "I find it difficult to allow
trust (Feeney, 1998; Reis & Patrick, 1996). We expected that
myself to depend on my group," and Brennan et al.'s Avoidance
people who are low on both attachment anxiety and avoidance
Item 21, "I find it difficult to allow myself to depend on romantic
(i.e., relatively secure individuals) would experience more positive
partners,"; our Item 11, "I am comfortable not being close to my
emotions with the group (see Simpson, 1990). We expected at-
group," and Brennan et al.'s Avoidance Item 3, "I am very com-
tachment anxiety to relate to negative emotions and perhaps to
fortable being close to romantic partners" (with a reversal); our
emotional extremity in general, as reported for relationship attach-
Item 12, "I often worry my group will not always want me as a
ment by Hazan and Shaver (1987) and others (Tidwell, Reis, &
member," and Brennan et al.'s Anxiety Item 8, "I worry a fair
Shaver, 1996). Finally, we believed avoidance would relate to low
amount about losing my partner." The specific items that we
levels of intimacy and interdependence with the group, and there-
regard as comparable are indicated in Table 3.
fore to relatively low levels of positive emotions in connection
We used these similar items and followed the procedure of with group membership.
Gorsuch (1974, pp. 251-252) to determine how well the specific The proclivity to seek, use, and provide social support is also a
items that Brennan et al. (1998) concluded are the best indicators fundamental aspect of attachment orientations. The tendency for
of anxiety and avoidance in relationships fit with our factors individuals high in attachment anxiety to fear rejection and for
measuring the same two orientations toward groups. We calculated those high in avoidance to distrust others, for example, is believed
theoretically based anxiety and avoidance scales by summing to arise from generalizations regarding the adequacy of secure
(with unit weights) our items that corresponded to items from support that the person has received in the past and expects in the
Brennan et al.'s anxiety and avoidance measures. Correlations future (Reis & Patrick, 1996). In line with these theoretical con-
with our actual factor scores were .93 for anxiety and .84 for siderations, social support in relationships has been found to be
avoidance. It would be difficult for these correlations to be any relatively high for secure individuals and lowest for avoidant
higher because these values are comparable to the estimated reli- individuals (Blain, Thompson, & Whiffen, 1993; Kobak & Sceery,
abilities of our scales (see Table 1). The correlation between our 1988; Simpson et al., 1992). Thus, we predicted that both the
Attachment Anxiety factor and theoretically based avoidance was Attachment Anxiety and Avoidance dimensions would be corre-
.42 and between our Avoidance and theoretically based anxiety lated with lower levels of perceived social support from the group,
was .20. Not only are these correlations much smaller than those with avoidance having the stronger effect.
between the corresponding factors, but they are also smaller than Commitment in romantic relationships is generally found to be
the correlation (.55) in our sample between the theoretical anxiety highest for secure individuals. Some studies have found commit-
and theoretical avoidance factors themselves. This set of analyses ment to be more strongly (inversely) related to attachment anxiety
therefore shows (a) that our factors correlate well with the exact than to avoidance (e.g., Mikulincer & Erev, 1991), whereas others
items that measure conceptually the same content (anxiety and have found the opposite (Kirkpatrick & Davis, 1994). Commit-
avoidance) in the relationship domain and also (b) that our factors ment to the group (which we measured by asking about plans to
have good discriminant validity, in that their correlations with the leave) should therefore be negatively related to both the Attach-

ment Anxiety and Avoidance factors, but we were unable to make their fraternity or sorority that they feel provided such support and also
clear predictions about which of these effects should be stronger. rated their satisfaction with the overall support from members of their
fraternity or sorority of the type described in each item. Sarason et al.
reported reliabilities of over .90 for separate subscales of number of
Method supports and satisfaction with supports, though these results are not directly
applicable to our modification because we asked about types of support
Participants specifically relevant to fraternity or sorority members.
Emotional experiences. Participants were also asked about their emo-
One hundred fifty-two undergraduate members of social fraternities or tional experiences with their fraternity or sorority. We used the items
sororities (58 men and 94 women) enrolled in an introductory psychology included in Simpson's (1990) emotional experience measure, for which he
course at Purdue University participated in this study in partial fulfillment reported reliabilities of over .79 for each of four subscales (as reported
of their course research requirement. below, we found these items to represent two dimensions). Participants
were asked to report how often they had felt 28 emotions in their experi-
Materials ences with their fraternity or sorority. Both positive and negative emotions
were included, such as excited, sad, needed, and content. Participants
Social Group Attachment Scale. Participants' group attachment was responded to each emotion using a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (never)
measured using the Social Group Attachment Scale, reworded to refer to to 7 (very often).
participants' fraternity or sorority rather than their most important social
group. An example of a reworded scale item is "I often worry my fraternity
(or sorority) will not always want me as a member." Procedure
Other group identification measures. To assess participants' feelings In same-gender groups of 5-10, participants were told that they would be
about their fraternity or sorority using alternative measures, we also in- asked to fill out a series of questionnaires concerning their thoughts and
cluded a modified version of the Psychological Attachment Instrument feelings about their sororities or fraternities. They were assured that their
(PAI; O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986), a measure of group identification drawn responses would be completely anonymous and confidential.7 Participants
from the organizational literature. The original authors viewed the PAI as were then each given a questionnaire packet that included the measures
involving three separate dimensions and reported reliabilities of from .76 to described above, with the order of the measures counterbalanced across
.88 for three subscales. (As described below, in our study the measure participants. After completing the questionnaire packet, participants were
proved to be unidimensional.) We modified the wording of the original PAI completely debriefed, thanked for their participation, and dismissed.
items to refer to participants' fraternity or sorority instead of an organiza-
tion. Participants were asked to indicate their agreement with 12 items such
as "What this fraternity (or sorority) stands for is important to me" and "I Results
talk up this fraternity (or sorority) to my friends as a great fraternity (or
sorority) to be a member of," using a 6-point scale ranging from 1 {strongly Factor Analyses
disagree) to 6 {strongly agree). The group attachment items were factor analyzed, and the
We also included a modified version of Brown, Condor, Matthews, results once again replicated the two-factor solution. Applying the
Wade, and Williams's (1986) group identification measure, for which the Gorsuch (1974) method for examining the convergence of two-
original authors reported a .71 alpha reliability. This measure was chosen factor analyses (as described in Footnote 1) showed that both
because factor-analytic studies by Jackson and Smith (1999) show it to be
factors in this study correlated with the corresponding factors from
among the best and purest measures of the underlying group identification
Study 2 at greater than .98. The correlations between the noncor-
construct that is common to several operationally distinct measures. Jack-
son and Smith obtained reliabilities of .85 and .90 in two studies. Again, responding factors were trivial, both less than .03. This replication
our modification involved changing the original items to refer to partici- confirms that the two-factor structure of group attachment is
pants' fraternity or sorority rather than their group. Participants were asked relatively invariant across different types of groups.
to respond to 10 items, such as "I identify with my fraternity (or sorority)" The other measures were also factor analyzed. The Brown et al.
and "I feel held back by my fraternity (or sorority)," using a 5-point scale (1986) group identification measure and the PAI held together
ranging from 1 (never) to 5 {very often). with strong single-factor solutions. The Brown measure and the
Personal characteristics. To control for participants' personal charac- PAI correlated at approximately .82 with each other, confirming
teristics, we asked participants the length of their membership in their that they are essentially measuring the same construct of group
fraternity or sorority, the size of the group, and whether they were currently
identification. Number of Social Supports and Satisfaction With
in a romantic relationship.
Supports loaded clearly on two separate factors, so those factors
Plans to leave. Participants were asked to respond to two items about
were analyzed separately. Finally, the emotion items broke into
their plans to leave their fraternity or sorority: "I have seriously considered
leaving this fraternity (or sorority)" and "I plan to look for living arrange- two factors that included disappointed, disgusted, rejected, dis-
ments outside of my fraternity (or sorority) in the near future." Participants tressed, and so on (which we label Negative Affect) and delighted,
indicated their agreement with these items using a 7-point scale ranging happy, joyful, excited, and so on (Positive Affect). We also created
from 1 {not at all) to 7 (very much).
Social support. To assess both the number of individuals in partici-
pants' fraternity or sorority providing social support and participants' We did not ask participants to indicate what particular society they
satisfaction with social support from their fraternity or sorority, we asked were members of, so that they would not feel constrained about revealing
participants to respond to nine items that we constructed using wording like any potential negative thoughts or feelings about their group. In principle
that of Sarason, Levine, Basham, and Sarason's (1983) measure of social there may be concerns about nonindependence in the data due to several
support. These items asked about different types of support, such as individuals responding about their perceptions of a single group. However,
"Whom in your fraternity (or sorority) can you really count on to listen to comparing our 150 or so participants to the total of 5500 students who
you when you need to talk?" or " . . . count on to help you solve problems?" belong to nearly 70 different fraternities and sororities on this campus, it
For each item, participants listed the initials of up to nine individuals in becomes evident that nonindependence could not produce major biases.

Table 5 length of group membership (shown in Table 5) and respondent

Correlations of Group Attachment Factors With Other gender were unrelated to the two attachment factors. In fact, only
Variables (Study 3, N = 152) two significant gender differences were found in this study: Men
were higher than women on Negative Affect, and men tended to
Attachment have been group members for a longer period of time than women.
Variable Anxiety Avoidance

Brown et al. (1986) Group Identification -.32*** -.75***

PAI -.2* -.75*** Prediction of Important Group Outcomes
Positive Affect -.14 -.58***
Negative Affect .46*** 2g*** Our central claim in this article is that people's attachments to
Affective extremity .22** -.21* their groups (as measured by our Attachment Anxiety and Avoid-
Number of social supports -.31*** -.56***
_ 44***
ance factors) have effects that are distinct from and in addition to
Satisfaction with social supports -.59***
Plans to leave .2* .65*** simple liking for or identification with the group. In this study we
Time in group -.05 .06 included two standard and well-regarded measures of group iden-
tification so that we could conduct analyses that offer perhaps the
Note. PAI = Psychological Attachment Instrument. clearest test of that claim: regressions examining the predictive
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
power of the group attachment factors controlling for group iden-
tification and other important variables. We used the Brown et al.
(1986) group identification measure (as noted above, the PAI
a third variable as the Sum of Negative Affect and Positive Affect
(each standardized separately), to represent overall affective correlates at greater than .80 with this measure, and using it instead
extremity. produces no material differences in the results) and respondent
gender as control variables. Preliminary analyses used group size
and length of membership as additional control variables, but these
Correlations With Other Measures never had significant effects. Nor did questionnaire order or sub-
Correlations between the Attachment Anxiety and Avoidance ject gender have any significant interactions in these regressions.
factors and the other measures are reported in Table 5. The Brown Table 6 shows these regressions, with dependent variables in-
et al. (1986) group identification measure and the PAI both cor- cluding Positive and Negative Affect, affective extremity, social
related significantly more strongly with Avoidance than with At- support, and plans to leave. These regressions involve the simul-
tachment Anxiety, F(l, 135) = 45.62 for group identification, and taneous entry of all independent variables shown, so the coeffi-
F(l, 135) = 61.95 for PAI, bothps < .001. Recall that this pattern cients reflect the unique predictive power of each independent
was also found with the Identity subscale of the CSES in Study 1, variable'controlling for all others. Overall, the results show that
which similarly assesses the extent to which a group is an impor- group identification (as measured by the Brown et al. [1986] scale)
tant component of someone's identity. Positive Affect, perceived clearly taps a dimension of central importance: Group identifica-
number of social supports, and plans to leave were also signifi- tion was related to virtually all of these outcome variables. But in
cantly more strongly related to Avoidance than to Attachment all six cases the group attachment variables possessed significant
Anxiety, respectively: F(l, 135) = 21.53, p < .001; F(l, predictive power above and beyond group identification and re-
135) = 6.64, p < .05; F(l, 135) = 38.14, p < .001. spondent gender. Attachment Anxiety was related to Negative
A different pattern is evident with Negative Affect and affective Affect, affective extremity, and perceptions of fewer and less
extremity, which are more strongly related to Attachment Anxiety satisfying social supports within the group. Avoidance was related
than to Avoidance, as we predicted on the basis of the relationship to lower Positive Affect, perceptions of fewer and less satisfying
attachment literature. This difference is significant in the case of social supports, and plans to leave. The substantive implications of
affective extremity, F(l, 135) = 13.38, p < .01. Note that the these effects are discussed shortly.

Table 6
Regressions Predicting Dependent Variables From Two Group Attachment Factors Plus Brown et al. (1986)
Group Identification Measure and Gender (Study 3, N = 152)

Affective Number iof Satisfaction

Positive Affect Negative Affect extremity support; with supports Plans to leave
variable B B J8 B j3 B B 0 B 0
Group identification 099*** .46 -0.64* -.27 0.33 .13 0.99* .24 0.76*** .42 -1.21*** -.45
Gender (female) 0.09 .04 -0.48* -.18 -0.29 -.10 0.65* .13 0.19 .09 -0.14 -.05
Attachment Anxiety 0.00 .00 0.49*** .36 0.36** .25 -0.55** -.23 -0.31*** -.30 0.07 .05
Avoidance -0.28* -.24 0.13 .09 -0.14 -.10 -0.93*** -.39 -0.30** -.28 0.54*** .35

Note. R2 = .43 for Positive Affect, .35 for Negative Affect, .11 for affective extremity, .45 for number of supports, .61 for satisfaction with supports, and
.59 for plans to leave. Each column represents a regression equation, with the dependent variable shown at the top of the table and the independent variables
on the left.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***/> < .001.

Possible Trade-Offs With Romantic Relationships but not women) avoidant respondents were lower in commitment
than secure or anxious respondents. However, analyses of our data
Are patterns or effects of group attachment different for respon- revealed no Gender X Attachment interactions, so we have no
dents who do and those who do not have romantic relationships? evidence that avoidance is differentially related to plans to leave
It is possible, for example, that a romantic partner would offer for men versus women.
social support and reduce the value placed on social support from
group members. However, current theoretical models (e.g., Brewer
& Gardner, 1996) stress the separate and independent functions General Discussion
served by group memberships and personal relationships, suggest-
ing that the presence or absence of romantic involvements will not Our first goals in this article were to outline conceptual links
greatly affect patterns of involvement with groups. Nearly half between attachment in close relationships and group identification,
(41%) of our respondents reported currently being in exclusive and to provide initial psychometric and validation evidence for a
romantic relationships, giving us good statistical power to search newly devised measure that reflects this integrative theorizing. In
for such differences. In short, we failed to find any such differ- meeting these goals, we demonstrated that our measures of attach-
ences. When interactions between the dichotomous romantic- ment anxiety and avoidance with respect to group membership
involvement variable and the other independent variables (the have good reliability and over-time stability. Their validity is
Brown et al., 1986, scale, gender, attachment anxiety, and avoid- supported by a number of specific findings in all three studies,
ance) were added to the regressions shown in Table 6, only one of including relationships to important group outcomes (such as
the 28 added terms proved significant, less than one would expect satisfaction, amount of interaction, emotions, and social support
by chance alone. Further, at the bivariate correlational level, only from the group). Study 2 further demonstrated the over-time pre-
one of the variables measured in this study, emotional extremity, dictive power of our measures. Finally, we also showed that group
was related to romantic involvement (which is associated with attachment is not simply the same thing as relationship attachment
feeling less extreme emotions in connection with group member- but is a largely independent component of people's basic beliefs
ship). Specifically, romantic involvement was uncorrelated with about themselves and others.
the two group-attachment factors (Attachment Anxiety and Avoid- Other researchers who would like to measure these group at-
ance). We conclude that there is little evidence for compensation tachment constructs can choose among several possible ap-
or trade-offs between romantic and group involvements; group and
proaches. Researchers could simply use our items (see Appendix)
interpersonal relationship processes seem to operate fairly
and calculate orthogonal factor scores, following the procedures
we used in this article. A disadvantage of using our factors is that
factor scores are standardized in a given sample, making compar-
isons across studies problematic. A computationally simpler alter-
Discussion native would be to use our items to form unit-weighted scales,
In terms of the correlations in Table 5, overall identification and applying + 1 or 1 weights on the basis of the signs of the factor
satisfaction with fraternity or sorority groups seems to relate more loadings in Table 3. In our Study 2 sample, these unit-weighted
to how much the individual wants and values closeness (i.e., the scales correlated at over .90 with the corresponding factor scores
Avoidance dimension) than to how much the individual fears and had .81 and .73 over-time stability correlations (virtually the
rejection (i.e., the Attachment Anxiety dimension). Dissatisfaction, same as for the factor scores in Table 1), but they also correlated
plans to leave, and so on seem to relate to feeling smothered at .62 with each other. As Footnote 5 notes, using correlated scales
(wanting less intimacy) rather than to feeling rejected. We specu- does not greatly affect the substantive findings reported here but
late that other types of groupsgroups that offer approval, inclu- does weaken theoretical interpretability. A third approach is to use
sion, and identity to their members more selectively and less unit-weighted composites of the items recommended by Brennan
unconditionally than fraternities or sororitiesmight show a dif- et al. (1998, Appendix 3.2) for measuring attachment anxiety and
ferent pattern. avoidance, reworded appropriately to refer to specific groups. As
The regressions in Table 6 confirm most of the hypotheses noted earlier in the article, several of our items correspond closely
described earlier. Attachment Anxiety is related to Negative Af- to such rewordings, and unit-weighted scales constructed from
fect, affective extremity, and perceptions of fewer and less satis- those few items correlated well (.93 for Anxiety and .84 for
fying social supports within the group. As noted earlier, prior Avoidance) with our factor scores. They also correlated at .55 with
research has shown that in interpersonal relationships attachment each other. We tentatively recommend this third measurement
anxiety is also related to negative emotion and to overall emotional approach for three reasons: (a) This approach should ultimately
extremity (e.g., Hazan & Shaver, 1987). These correlations make strengthen conceptual links between relationship attachment and
sense conceptually, for attachment anxiety taps a sense of being group attachment; (b) we hope that when a larger number of the
unworthy as a group member and concern about group acceptance. Brennan et al. (1998) items are used, group avoidance and group
Avoidance is related to lower levels of Positive Affect, percep- attachment anxiety scores will not correlate with each other as
tions of fewer and less satisfying social supports, and plans to strongly as they do with our specific items; and (c) if this hope is
leave. These relationships are also largely as predicted. Previous not fulfilled, at least the use of a common set of items to assess
research has shown that social support is related to secure attach- relationship and group attachment will permit investigation of why
ment (i.e., negatively related to both attachment anxiety and avoid- group avoidance and anxiety are moderately to strongly correlated,
ance; Simpson et al., 1992). Our results for plans to leave resemble whereas relationship avoidance and anxiety are virtually indepen-
those of Kirkpatrick and Davis (1994), who found that (for men dent (Brennan et al., 1998).

Beyond establishing the reliability and validity of these mea- which people fear the potential bad things that come from rela-
sures, results reported in this article support several important tionships or groups (rejection, abandonment). Supporting this
substantive conclusions. Consistent with work on personal rela- speculative identification, attachment anxiety is correlated with a
tionships (Brennan et al., 1998), we found that attachment to range of negative emotions including distress, which Higgins
groups reflects two basic dimensions: attachment anxiety (extent identifies as characteristic of prevention orientation. This specula-
of worry about acceptance) and avoidance (extent of desire for tion tying the two attachment dimensions to Higgins's fundamen-
closeness and dependence). Of these dimensions, avoidance was tal motivational orientations, if borne out by further research,
strongly related to standard measures of group identification. From would suggest that anxiety and avoidance dimensions might be
our perspective, it seems that identification as typically defined found not only with respect to relationships and group member-
mostly captures the extent of an individual's desire to be close to ships but in every domain reflecting people's orientation toward
the group and to use it as a source of support and identity. This objects with survival relevance or other major significance (in-
parallels findings that in the relationship domain, avoidance is cluding food, power and status, important possessions, etc.). These
more strongly correlated than anxiety with overall relationship points illustrate the heuristic value of putting groups and relation-
satisfaction (e.g., Brennan & Shaver, 1995). However, avoidance ships in a common framework and incorporating evolutionary and
is not the only factor related to important outcomes: Attachment motivational perspectives.
anxiety is more strongly related than avoidance to negativity and Our conceptualization of attachment to groups illuminates two
extremity of affective responses to the group (see Table 6) as well additional areas in which further research is needed. First, from the
as to low self-esteem (see Table 2). A single dimension of rela- viewpoint of social identity theory or self-categorization theory, it
tionship satisfaction is inadequate to give a full picture of people's is typically assumed that all people depend on groups as a source
psychological ties to relationship partners; two dimensions of of esteem, value, and identity. In contrast, we found that people
attachment (anxiety and avoidance; Brennan et al., 1998) are systematically and stably differ in these matters, with those who
required. Similarly, two dimensions of attachment to groups de- score high on avoidance feeling that they do not need groups and
scribe unique aspects of people's ties to groups. trying to avoid dependence on them. Because group identification
Consistent with our claim that group identification tells only is believed to underlie many important forms of social behavior
part of the story, we demonstrated that our measures predict (including intergroup conflict, social influence, and group polar-
important group outcomes above and beyond the Brown et al. ization; Turner et al., 1987), these findings raise many questions
(1986) measure of group identification (Table 6). Thus, for exam- about those with nonsecure group attachment. Implications for
ple, someone who scores low on avoidance and high on attachment social identity theory and related models deserve to be further
anxiety might score fairly high overall on a measure of group explored.
identification. Yet that person's experience with the group might Second, as noted earlier, we found only modest correlations
be largely negative, marked by frequent negative emotions, con- between group attachment and relationship attachment variables in
formity to group norms motivated by a fear of rejection, and Study 1, and we found no effect of a concurrent romantic rela-
dissatisfaction with social support from the group. Clearly, impor- tionship on patterns of group attachment in Study 3. Thus, for
tant aspects of this overall pattern would be missed by using only example, an individual may have secure attachment in a romantic
a unidimensional group identification measure. relationship but a different type of attachment to an important
At a broader theoretical level, our work in this article is intended group, perhaps viewing him- or herself as not needing to depend
to emphasize conceptual links between the psychological systems on the group or viewing the group as coercive or rejecting. Such
that regulate affect and behavior in relationships and similar sys- disjunctions might have important consequences for the individual,
tems that regulate people's feelings and behavior toward groups. for example, leading to increased emphasis on personal relation-
As noted in the introduction, both of these systems plausibly have ships over group membership (or vice versa) in the way they spend
an evolutionary basis (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Bowlby, 1980; their time and attain their social goals. This relative independence
Caporael, 1997). Managing and regulating closeness and depen- of orientations toward relationships and groups is consistent with
dence with both individual relationship partners (particularly care- recent theory and data by Brewer and Gardner (1996) on the
givers and sexual partners) and groups are equally essential to existence of distinct relational and collective selves, with different
survival in human evolutionary history. It is therefore no surprise sources of self-worth and motivational orientations. It also fits with
that the same two dimensions (attachment anxiety and avoidance) findings of Baldwin et al. (1996) and Collins and Read (1994)
emerge in both of these domains. regarding the coexistence of multiple models of relationships,
varying in specificity and accessibility. Like these authors, we
It is even possible to speculatively identify these dimensions
assume that representations based on experiences with a specific
with the two fundamental motivational orientations that Higgins
group will generally govern interactions and feelings about that
(1998) described: promotion and prevention. Promotion orienta-
group but also that more general orientations (built up over a
tion (seeking positive outcomes) may correspond to avoidance, the
lifetime of experience with different groups) will shape general
dimension that taps the extent to which people desire the potential
expectations about a new or previously unknown type of group.
good things that come from relationships or groups (e.g., inclusion
and acceptance). Supporting this speculative identification, avoid- Finally, we hope that these studies illustrate the value of a
ance is correlated (inversely, of course) with a range of positive conceptually integrative approach in social psychology (see
emotions such as joy and happiness, which Higgins has also Mackie & Smith, 1998). Brennan et al. (1998, p. 55) commented
identified as characteristic of promotion orientation. Conversely, that in their massive factor-analytic study, they found that mea-
prevention orientation (avoiding negative outcomes) may corre- sures derived from widely different theoretical perspectives (e.g.,
spond to attachment anxiety, the dimension that taps the extent to Ainsworth et al.'s, 1978, original observationally based typology,

Bowlby's, 1973, 1980, 1982, clinical models, or adult romantic Campbell, D. (1971). White attitudes toward black people. Ann Arbor, Ml:
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{Appendix follows)

Appendix A

Social Group Attachment ScaleMost Important Group Version

(Items 1-18 adapted from Collins & Read, 1990; Items 19-25 adapted social group that is MOST IMPORTANT to you and write the name of that
from Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991.) group below. Please respond to the following statements on the basis of
Instructions: We would now like you to consider your membership in how you feel about THIS GROUP and your membership in it. There are no
social groups. By social groups we mean collections of people that know right or wrong answers to any of these statements; we are interested in your
each other and interact frequently. Some examples of such social groups own personal reactions and opinions. Please circle a number on the scale
include fraternities/sororities, clubs, and sports teams. Please choose a that you feel best describes your feelings for each statement.

1. I find it difficult to allow myself to depend on my group. 16. I don't worry about being alone or not being accepted by my
2. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too group.
close to my group. 17. I find my group is reluctant to get as close as I would like.
3. I want to feel completely at one with my group. 18. I am not sure that I can always depend on my group to be there
4. I find it relatively easy to get close to my group. when I need it.
5. I do not often worry about my group getting too close to me. 19. Often my group wants me to be more open about my thoughts and
6. It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient. feelings than I feel comfortable being.
7. I am nervous when my group gets too close. 20. I am comfortable having my group depend on me.
8. My desire to feel completely at one sometimes scares my group 21. I sometimes worry that my group doesn't value me as much as I
away. value my group.
9. I prefer not to depend on my group or to have my group depend on 22. I am comfortable depending on my group.
me. 23. I know that my group will be there when I need it.
10. I often worry that my group does not really accept me. 24. I want to be emotionally close with my group, but I find it
11. I am comfortable not being close to my group. difficult to trust my group completely or to depend on my group.
12. I often worry my group will not always want me as a member. 25. I do not often worry about being abandoned by my group.
13. I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to my group.
14. My group is never there when I need it.
15. I find it difficult to completely trust my group.

Received March 31, 1998

Revision received October 13, 1998
Accepted December 4, 1998

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