Adult Romantic Attachment and Relational Ethics: A Dyadic Analysis of Couples in Therapy

Jennifer Coppola, Rashmi Gangamma, Codina Kawar, Rikki Patton, Kamala Ramadoss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a dyadic design, we examined associations between adult attachment and relational ethics in a sample of 69 mixed-gender couples seeking therapy at a university clinic. Results showed significant variance between couples’ reports of relational ethics, explained by male partners’ attachment avoidance and anxiety styles. Overall, when attachment anxiety was high, partners themselves experienced greater relational ethics, but the other partner experienced lesser relational ethics. Additionally, some important gender differences emerged. While higher attachment avoidance in men was related to decreased relational ethics for both partners, increased attachment anxiety in men was related to their own reports of higher relational ethics in the relationship. This work represents a step toward empirical integration of adult attachment theory and contextual theory of therapy and points to opportunities for the development of clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Adult attachment
  • Contextual theory of therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Dyadic design
  • Emotionally focused couples therapy
  • Relational ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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