Edie Jo Hall

Date of Graduation


Document Type



This study examined the relationship between mother-daughter attachment relationships and their reactions to conflict and other emotional exchanges. Fifteen young adults ("young generation" daughters), thirty middle-aged adults (15 "middle generation" mothers and 15 "middle generation" daughters), and fifteen older adults ("older generation" mothers) were assessed for the quality of their attachment to each other as well as their attachment to a romantic partner. Participants viewed a videotape in which a female actor, representing the participating family member, engaged in various emotional discussions (positive, neutral & negative). Participants were asked to imagine that the attachment figure was speaking directly towards her. After each video segment, the participants answered questions concerning how she felt, how the "attachment figure" felt, what she would do next, and whether she believed that the conflict could or would be resolved. Results showed that securely attached individuals were more likely to report feeling sad, with higher levels of sadness, after the conflict situations. Family role and Generation dyad also were significant factors, showing that daughters and the younger mother-daughter pairs were more likely to report feeling angry in response to the conflict interactions. Further, Attachment style classification interacted with both Generation dyad and Family role effects to indicate that insecurely attached mothers and older insecurely attached mother-daughter pairs were more likely to report being afraid in response to the conflict than the other groups. In accord with predictions, the securely attached individuals were more likely to want to deal with the conflict right away by reporting a desire to "work it out now," and were more likely to believe they would be able to work out the problem eventually. Overall, the findings of this study indicate that the attachment style classification of family members is predictive of how they respond to conflict and other emotional interactions with another family member. Further, the results support the notion that attachment styles of interacting are fundamentally influenced by the family of origin, and, attachment styles also are related to romantic relationship functioning.