Insecurely attached individuals tend to be less satisfied with life, study finds

New research has found an association between a person’s satisfaction with life and their relationship attachment style.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, also found that “grit” was related to life satisfaction as well — but the relationship was the opposite of what researchers expected.

“I’ve always had an interest in the role that early attachment has throughout one’s life, and more specifically the relationship between attachment and personal relationships. Furthermore, the variable of ‘grit’ is fairly new within the field, and we were interested to see the relationship this might have to one’s life and relationship satisfaction,” said study author Angelica Waring, a licensed clinical psychologist.

For their study, the researchers surveyed 378 individuals regarding their relationship attachment styles, relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, and grit.

Attachment theory describes how people form relationships with others. People can be secure or insecure in their attachments to others, and insecure individuals can be either anxious or avoidant.

People with an “anxious” attachment style are fearful of rejection and abandonment, while people with an “avoidant” attachment style tend not to trust others and shun intimacy.

“There was a significant relationship between attachment and life satisfaction, as well as attachment and relationship satisfaction. More specifically, those with more insecure attachment styles tended to be less satisfied in their life, as well as in their relationships,” Waring told PsyPost.

“This speaks to the importance of creating a secure attachment early in childhood, as it may have a lasting impact throughout one’s life.”

Higher levels of grit, however, were not related to higher levels of relationship or life satisfaction. In fact, participants with more grit tended to report lower satisfaction with life.

“We were surprised to find that the variable ‘grit’ (defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals) did not have a significant relationship to relationship satisfaction, and had the opposite hypothesized relationship to life satisfaction,” Waring said.

“This is contrary to findings in previous studies, which may be due in part to the majority of our sample being part of the ‘Millennial’ generation, and possibly having different values related to work than previous generations.”

“It’s important to note that our sample was not representative of the general population. Participants were predominately white women with an average age of 28.3 years old, making it difficult to generalize these results,” Waring noted.

The study, “The Role of Attachment Anxiety, Attachment Avoidance, and Grit on Life Satisfaction and Relationship Satisfaction“, was authored by Angelica Waring, Jerry L. Kernes, and Ngoc H. Bui.