Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Vol 78(6), Jun 2000, 1053-1073

Collins, Nancy L.,Feeney, Brooke C.


This study used an attachment theoretical framework to investigate support-seeking and caregiving processes in intimate relationships. Dating couples (N = 93) were videotaped while one member of the couple (support seeker) disclosed a personal problem to his or her partner (caregiver). Results indicated that when support seekers rated their problem as more stressful, they engaged in more direct support-seeking behavior, which led their partners to respond with more helpful forms of caregiving. Responsive caregiving then led seekers to feel cared for and to experience improved mood. Evidence for individual differences was also obtained: Avoidant attachment predicted ineffective support seeking, and anxious attachment predicted poor caregiving. Finally, couples in better functioning relationships engaged in more supportive interactions, and participants’ perceptions of their interaction were biased by relationship quality and attachment style.