Attachment anxiety benefits from security priming: Evidence from working memory performance
The present study investigates the relationship between the attachment dimensions (anxious vs. avoidance) and the cognitive performance of individuals specifically whether the attachment dimensions would predict the working memory (WM) performance. In the n-back task reflecting the WM capacity both attachment related and non-attachment related words were used. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups that received either the secure or the neutral subliminal priming. In the secure priming condition the aim was to induce sense of security by presenting secure attachment words prior to the n-back task performance. In neutral priming condition neutral words that did not elicit sense of security were presented. Structural equation modeling revealed divergent patterns for attachment anxiety and avoidance dimensions under the different priming conditions. In neutral priming condition WM performance declined in terms of capacity in the n-back task for individuals who rated higher levels of attachment anxiety. However in the secure priming condition WM performance was boosted in the n-back task for individuals who rated higher levels of attachment anxiety. In other words the subliminal priming of the security led to increased WM capacity of individuals who rated higher levels of attachment anxiety. This effect however was not observed for higher levels of attachment avoidance. Results are discussed along the lines of hyperactivation and deactivation strategies of the attachment system.