Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

By Ralph Erber ; Robin Gilmour | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Stalking the Elusive Love Style: Attachment Styles, Love Styles, and Relationship Development

Keith E. Davis University of South Carolina Lee A. Kirkpatrick College of William and Mary Marc B. Levy Levy Counseling & Consulting, Salt Lake City, UT Robin E. O'Hearn St. Lawrence University

The primary aim of this chapter is to provide a comparative analysis of the contributions that attachment theory ( Hazan & Shaver, 1987, 1990, 1993; Shaver & Hazan, 1992) and love styles theory ( Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986, 1990; Lee, 1973-1976, 1988) make to an understanding of relationship development among premarital heterosexual couples. One theme concerns conceptual clarification, because many elementary treatments of romantic love present these two approaches as essentially on a par with each and leave the impression that each is concerned primarily with individual differences in the experience of love relationships. We argue that such an impression is quite misleading, and that the potential range of phenomena relevant to love that may be explained by each theory is quite different in scope. To anticipate our conclusion, we argue that attachment theory is both potentially more powerful in its ability to integrate both normative and individual differences relevant to love than is love styles theory, and that empirically attachment theory has already shown its ability to generate both novel and integrative findings.

The second theme of the chapter is the empirical examination of three aspects of relationship development within the context of a 3-year study of unmarried couples. The three issues that we examine are (a) partner pairing and choice,

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