What is attachment theory?

Developed by British psychoanalyst John Bowlby, it is a comprehensive psychological, evolutionary, and ethological framework emphasizing the crucial role of early relationships in shaping emotional development and establishing the foundation for healthy lifelong connections.

It posits that humans are inherently driven to form secure emotional bonds with primary caregivers, typically parents, to ensure safety and facilitate world exploration. This theory identifies distinct attachment styles—certain, anxious-preoccupied, anxious-avoidant, and disorganized —formed through early experiences, influencing long-term relationships and impacting behavior, communication, and intimacy throughout life.

Attachment theory's profound influence extends across fields such as child development, therapy, counseling, and social policy, contributing valuable insights into understanding children and fostering healthy child and adult relationships and connections.

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Download this Attachment Styles Quiz to shape emotional development and establish the foundation for healthy lifelong connections.

The four attachment styles

Attachment theory identifies four primary attachment styles—anxious, avoidant, secure, and disorganized —each shaping individuals' and children's relational patterns and emotional regulation based on parent and early caregiving experiences.

Anxious attachment style

  • Individuals with anxious attachment crave closeness but fear abandonment. They are often known as the clingy child.
  • They may be overly sensitive to their partner's behavior and seek constant reassurance.
  • They might be prone to jealousy and possessiveness.
  • They may struggle with expressing their emotions effectively.

Avoidant attachment style

  • Individuals with avoidant attachment are uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness.
  • They may value independence and self-reliance.
  • They might be reluctant to share their feelings and avoid commitment.
  • They may push people away to avoid getting hurt by being emotionally distant.

Secure attachment style

  • Individuals with a secure attachment style feel comfortable with intimacy and closeness.
  • They trust their partners and believe their needs will be met.
  • They are confident in exploring their surroundings and have healthy self-esteem.
  • They communicate effectively and manage their emotions well.
  • They are comfortable expressing both positive and negative emotions.

Disorganized attachment style

  • Individuals with disorganized attachment have mixed emotions and behaviors toward their caregivers.
  • They may crave closeness but also fear intimacy.
  • They might be unpredictable and inconsistent in their relationships.
  • They may have difficulty trusting others and regulating their emotions.

Discover your attachment style with our free quiz

Introduction and instructions

Read the introductory information and instructions carefully. Understand the purpose of the questions and how they will help you gain insights into your attachment style.

Answering questions

Respond to each question honestly and based on your feelings and behaviors in various relationship scenarios. Some questions may explore your preferences, reactions, or thoughts in specific interpersonal situations.

Rating or scaling

Some quizzes may involve rating or scaling your responses to indicate the intensity or frequency of certain behaviors or feelings.


Complete all the questions as instructed. Ensure that you haven't skipped any items, as each question contributes to the overall assessment of your attachment style.

Scoring and interpretation

Some quizzes may provide immediate scoring and interpretation, while others require you to submit your responses to receive results. Understand the implications of your scores in relation to different styles.

Attachment Style Questionnaire example (sample)

The Attachment Style Quiz is a valuable tool in interpersonal dynamics, specifically designed to provide a systematic and insightful approach for individuals to assess and understand their attachment styles. Operating as a structured assessment resource, this quiz facilitates clear communication between participants, their relational partners, therapists, and others involved in navigating the complexities of attachment dynamics.

With a carefully crafted format, the Attachment Style Quiz streamlines the process of self-discovery and promotes a deeper understanding of one's attachment patterns, guiding individuals in exploring the nuances of their emotional connections and relational behaviors.

Download this Attachment Styles Quiz Example:

Attachment Style Quiz

Already finished taking the attachment style quiz? What to do next

Reflect on the following statements and the results

Compare the descriptions of your partner and dominant attachment style to your own experiences by considering how the descriptions align with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relationships. Consider specific examples to support your reflection.

Identify any potential challenges or areas for growth. Based on your attachment style, do you see any recurring patterns you'd like to address in your relationships? Are there any areas in close relationships where you could improve communication or emotional expression?

Explore the positive aspects of your attachment style. Every attachment style has its strengths and weaknesses. Take some time to appreciate the positive aspects of your style, such as your capacity for empathy, independence, or resilience.

Utilize resources

Read books or articles better to understand attachment styles and their impact on relationships.

Listen to podcasts or watch videos. Many online resources discuss attachment styles in an engaging and accessible way.

Join online communities or forums to connect with others interested in attachment theories and share experiences. Participate in discussions and offer support to fellow learners.

Take action

Practice mindful communication by being intentional about how you communicate your needs and feelings in relationships. Pay attention to your communication patterns and identify areas where you can be more assertive, direct, or vulnerable.

Learn healthy ways to manage difficult emotions and cope with stress in relationships. Consider mindfulness practices, journaling, or engaging in activities that bring you joy.

If your insecure attachment style is causing significant difficulties in your relationships or you feel overwhelmed, consider seeking support from a therapist or mental health professional. They can provide personalized guidance and strategies to develop secure attachment patterns and foster healthier relationships.

What are the four concepts of attachment theory?
What are the four concepts of attachment theory?

Commonly asked questions

What are the four concepts of attachment theory?

Internal working models, attachment styles, emotional availability, and exploration.

What is the rarest attachment style?

Disorganized, insecure child attachment style is the rarest attachment style in children, with estimates suggesting it occurs in 10-15% of children.

Is attachment theory legitimate?

Yes, it is a well-established and widely accepted theory in psychology with extensive empirical support.

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