Hazan and Shaver

Do you feel comfortable around other people and can trust them easily? Or do you find it challenging to connect with them? These are some of the questions you would have to answer if you stumbled across Hazan and Shaver’s ‘love quiz’ in American newspapers in 1987. However, you would not have been aware that you had played a role in one of the most famous studies of attachment theory. 

Hazan and Shaver Hazan and Shaver

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Contents
Table of contents
    • First, we are going to review attachment theory.
    • Next, we will look at the Hazan and Shaver continuity hypothesis.
    • Then, we will look at the Hazan and Shaver 1987 procedure and conclusion.
    • Finally, we will delve into the Hazan and Shaver strengths and weaknesses.

    Aim of Hazan and Shavers Experiment

    Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver’s research focused on developing and expanding attachment theory. So, before we dive into their study, let’s first look at attachment theory.

    Attachment theory states that children need to form a connection (attachment) with their caregiver to develop normally.

    John Bowlby, the main founder of attachment theory, said that children need a secure attachment to a primary caregiver to feel safe and explore the world around them, which is essential for normal social and emotional development.

    Bowlby (1969) proposed that a child’s attachment to their caregiver forms a mental representation of how relationships work. Mary Ainsworth (1978) later identified three attachment types in children: secure, insecure-resistant, and insecure-avoidant.

    A child who has experienced secure attachment to their caregivers will believe that adult relationships should operate in the same loving, trusting, and safe manner.

    Early on, attachment theory only studied children. The attachment research only focused on children and was extremely successful in showing these attachment styles between a child and caregivers exist around the world.

    Hazan and Shaver (1987) wanted to build upon this existing literature. They proposed that the attachment style that the baby had with their caregiver extended to adult romantic relationships.

    Hazan and Shaver’s Continuity Hypothesis

    An important term in Hazan and Shaver’s research was the continuity hypothesis.

    The continuity hypothesis states that our childhood relationships with our caregivers can affect and forecast our future adult relationships.

    The continuity hypothesis was a definition that Bowlby made when outlining his theory on attachment. Hazan and Shaver used the continuity hypothesis as a basis for their research.

    The continuity hypothesis would say that if you grew up in a house with a parent who loved and supported you, you would have a secure attachment to that parent. Later on, as an adult, you would have healthy and supportive relationships since that is what you experienced as a child.

    Hazan and Shaver, Photograph of a mother and daughter kissing. StudySmarter

    Fig. 1. A secure attachment to your caregiver increases the likelihood of having secure relationships as an adult.

    Hazan and Shaver 1987: Procedure

    Hazan and Shaver’s main aim was to see if partners in adult romantic relationships also experience an attachment process like an infant and their caregiver.

    To study this theory, they put together a love quiz. This love quiz ran in a local newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, and asked people to send in their answers.

    There were two parts to the quiz – the first looked at attachment style from the participants’ childhoods, and the second was a questionnaire about the participants’ beliefs on love.

    The questionnaire asked about fundamental aspects of a relationship (e.g. the importance of trust) and dealbreakers in relationships (like cheating and jealousy).

    Hazan and Shaver looked at the first 620 responses from their newspaper advertisement. The participants were 205 men and 415 women between the ages of 14 and 82. Of their sample size, 42% were married, and 31% were dating someone.

    Hazan and Shaver used the first part of the love quiz to categorise the participants’ childhood attachment styles. They sorted the participants into Ainsworth’s attachment types – secure, insecure-resistant, and insecure-avoidant.

    Hazan and Shaver 1987: Conclusion

    Researchers classified 56% of participants as having secure adult attachments. They were more likely to have balanced and longer-lasting romantic relationships. They described their romantic relationships as positive, happy, friendly, and trusting.

    19% of the participants were classified as insecure-resistant. They reported they experienced love as a compulsive commitment. They constantly worried about their partner’s love because they feared they would abandon them.

    The final 25% of participants were insecure-avoidant people who feared closeness and did not believe they needed love to be happy.

    Not only did these findings line up with the researchers’ hypothesis, but they also mirrored the percentages that Ainsworth found in her initial studies.

    Hazan and Shaver found that the prevalence (proportion of the general population) of the three attachment styles was the same in adulthood as in childhood. In addition, the results supported the concept that the internal working model has a lifelong effect.

    The research was the first to support the continuity hypothesis that our attachment style in childhood predicts our romantic relationship style in adulthood.

    However, Hazan and Shaver acknowledged that not all people remained true to their childhood attachment style and changed throughout their lives. As with most studies, their findings mostly supported their hypothesis but did not support it 100%.

    Evaluation of Hazan and Shaver (1987)

    Hazan and Shaver successfully studied what they intended to do. Their results show that a child’s attachment style in infancy impacts their attachment to a partner later in life. These results show a key expansion of the attachment field.

    Hazan and Shaver, Photograph of a couple eating at a restaurant. StudySmarterFig. 2. Secure infant attachments can lead to secure adult relationships.

    Numerous studies have happened since Hazan and Shaver’s research. Many of these studies also focus on attachment styles in adulthood or how they can evolve from childhood to adulthood.

    The continuation of research in this field shows the impact that Hazan and Shaver had on attachment. While they were the first to study how infant attachment can predict and affect adult attachment styles in romantic relationships, they are not anymore. Their research opened the door for others to expand on this literature.

    Hazan and Shaver’s Strengths and Weaknesses

    Finally, let’s evaluate Hazan and Shaver’s 1987 strengths and weaknesses.

    Hazan and Shaver: Strengths

    Both men and women participated in the study. The study supports Bowlby’s theory that relationships in childhood influence relationships in adulthood (continuity hypothesis).

    Mcarthy’s (1999) study supports the evidence for the influence of early attachments on future relationships. He conducted a study with 40 women of adult age who shared information about their childhood, which helped determine their early attachment styles in the study.

    Women with secure attachments in childhood rated their romantic relationships more positively than women with insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant attachment styles.

    Feeney and Noller (1992) studied university students in relationships. They found that those with insecure-avoidant attachment styles were the most likely to engage in a breakup. However, attachment styles also changed as the relationship progressed to a firmer and more stable level.

    Hazan and Shaver: Weaknesses

    Hazan and Shaver’s study may have some problems regarding its validity. Their questionnaire depends on the honesty and realistic views of the respondents when disclosing relationship experiences with their parents in childhood.

    Also, the accuracy of the answers could be a problem since they rely on the participants’ memories, i.e. retrospective information. As a result, these factors could compromise the study’s validity.

    The researchers conducted the study with an exclusively American population and, therefore, could be ethnocentric. The study relied on self-report, so participants may not have been sincere because they wanted to sound socially desirable.

    Clarke and Clarke (1998) described the influence of early childhood attachment on later relationships as a probability but not a certainty. People should not be judged for having bad relationships because they already have attachment problems. The determinism that comes with this statement could significantly impact them and cause them more suffering. So if we overemphasise the risk, we become too pessimistic about people’s future.

    Additionally, the study population was limited to people who received the specific newspaper and who would respond to newspaper articles. This narrows down the participants to a very specific type of person.


    Hazan and Shaver - Key takeaways

    • The aim of the Hazan and Shavers experiment was to identify if early attachments could predict later relationships.

    • Hazan and Shaver (1987) examined the application of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships and designed a ‘love quiz’.

    • They found that people with secure attachment types had more balanced and longer-lasting romantic relationships.

    • The prevalence (proportion of the general population) of the three attachment styles (secure, insecure-resistant, insecure-avoidant) was the same in adulthood as in childhood.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Hazan and Shaver

    Did Bowlby agree with Hazan and Shaver?

    Bowlby (1969) proposed that a child’s attachment to their caregiver forms a mental representation of how relationships work. This internal working model is a template for future relationships, known as the continuity hypothesis. The Hazan and Shaver 1987 conclusion supported this notion.

    What are the four types of attachment styles?

    The four types are secure, insecure-anxious, insecure-avoidant, and disorganised.

    How did Hazan and Shaver conduct their research?

    The Hazan and Shaver 1987 procedure involved asking participants to complete two questionnaires. Out of three passages, they had to choose one passage that best described their romantic relationship style. The second questionnaire was about their childhood relationships with their parents.

    What did Hazan and Shaver (1987) suggest about attachment?

    Hazan and Shaver suggested that our attachment style in childhood predicts our romantic relationship style in adulthood. However, they acknowledged that not all people remained true to their childhood attachment style and changed throughout their lives.

    What did hazan and shaver 1987 suggest about attachment?

    The Hazan and Shaver continuity hypothesis suggests that early attachment styles with caregivers can predict later adulthood romantic relationships. 

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