Adult attachment and incidental memory for emotional words


  • Jibo He
  • Nanxin Li
  • Tonggui Li


A  dual task of attachment priming and memory recognition was proposed to explore the effect of adult attachment styles on the incidental memory for emotional words. Subjects completed an attachment priming task which intends to activate internal working model of  attachment  by describing attachment-related scenes,  and then an incidental memory  recognition  test of words which differ in emotional meaning and relevance of attachment styles. Signal detection theory was used to compare the discriminability index and decision criterion of emotional words in subjects of different attachment style. Results showed that subjects with secure attachment styles performed better than insecure-attached subjects in the memory recognition test, in terms of higher hit rate, lower false alarm rate, and higher discriminability index.  We extended the influence of attachment styles on cognition to lower level of incidental memory, not just on higher cognitive level with emotional arousal as suggested by previous research.

Author Biographies

Jibo He, University of Illinois
Department of Psychology
Nanxin Li, Yale University
Department of Psychology
Tonggui Li, Peking University
Department of Psychology