B4579 - The dominance dynamic in the family social control prestige attachment style and downstream consequences - 09/04/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Drew Altschul | The University of Edinburgh (UK)
Dr Adam Moore
Title of project: 
The dominance dynamic in the family: social control, prestige, attachment style, and downstream consequences
Proposal summary: 

Attachment insecurity (e.g., attachment avoidance and anxiety) is a fundamental characteristic linked to how people engage with and experience power dynamics inherent in social relationships. Social power motives (e.g. dominance, prestige) also predict various behaviours, preferences for, and experiences of social relationships, many of which overlap those connected to attachment insecurity. However, there is no extant work directly linking attachment insecurity to social power motives.

Yet there is ample evidence to hypothesize a relationship. The power motives are associated with the quality and outcomes of various close relationships, including friendships and romantic partnerships. A stronger general power motive in men is linked to breakups, intimate partner violence, and sexual coercion in romantic relationships. In non-romantic friendships, power motives predicts fewer dyadic interactions, increased frustration and guilt in friendship episodes, and more instrumental, assertive, and self-expansive striving in friendship. Similar outcomes have also been linked to differences in adult attachment orientations, suggesting a possible link between power motives and attachment orientations. On the other hand early-life attachment insecurity is also related to important later life outcome variables, such as antisocial behaviour and mental health. Might this relationship be mediated by individuals’ goals are and the way they behave, which are captured by dimensions of social power?

The aims of this project are to look at several factors in an individual’s upbringing, including attachment style, parental personality, socioeconomic status, and parental dynamics, to see how these factors are linked to dominance and prestige seeking personality traits, as well as life outcome variables.

Impact of research: 
At least two scholarly papers are planned to emerge from this research. All told, this project will lead to a better understanding of dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics, both in terms of how parental dynamics are relevant to the futures of their children, and why prior personal experiences and linked with dysfunctional dynamics. Understanding these dynamics will advance our knowledge on issues like relationship quality and satisfaction, domestic violence and dyadic aggression, and sexual coercion. Understanding these links will help to develop policy in education, organizations, and elsewhere to promote healthy and positive interpersonal relationships and behaviour. Moreover, the links between early-life factors such as attachment insecurity and later life outcomes like mental health are complex and multifaceted, and we are far from achieving a complete understanding of these outcomes. Power dynamics and power seeking traits are a fruitful and underexplored area that may significantly contribute to these important outcomes, and by understanding these factors we may gain considerable understanding of how people develop poor mental health and antisocial dispositions. Power dynamics and associated traits are also linked to socioeconomic status and social class, and by particularly examining the intergenerational transfer of these traits, we will gain a better understanding of the enduring effects of socioeconomic position.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 27 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 9 April, 2024
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Psychology - personality