La Trobe
43535_SOURCE01_3_A.pdf (2.51 MB)

Attachment Theory and Romantic Relationships: Physical Attractiveness, Attachment Style and the Influence on Attraction and Partner Preference

Download (2.51 MB)
posted on 2023-01-19, 11:36 authored by James Shulman
Submission note: Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Doctor of Clinical Psychology to the Department of Psychology and Counselling, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.

The current research project was a mixed-method investigation of the impact of physical attractiveness and attachment style on partner evaluation, specifically partner preferences and initial relationships for women. Study 1 used a quantitative research design. In Study 1 (N equals 1545), an experiment was conducted using written hypothetical dating vignettes to test participants’ preferences for secure, anxious and avoidant-attached profiles that were accompanied by either a neutral or attractive photograph. Hierarchical regressions and between-subjects ANOVAs indicated that participants preferred secure partners, followed by anxious partners and finally avoidant partners. Insecure participants’ attachment styles had some influence over their preference for partners, showing a slight preference for partners with the same attachment style. There was also a preference for attractive partners over neutral partners. Study 2 (N equals 30) was a qualitative investigation of previous dating experiences women had with individuals of different attachment styles. The aim was to determine what was contributing to their impressions of others, what they noticed about behaviour, how behaviour was evaluated and whether their own attachment style influenced impressions. Inductive content analysis indicated that participant attachment style had minimal impact on perceptions. The findings suggested that nonverbal, attachment-related behaviours contribute to impressions formed about potential partners. Study 3 (N equals 293) had similar aims to Study 1 in investigating attachment style, physical attractiveness and partner preference. Study 3 aimed to build on a gap in the literature and utilise brief videos rather than dating vignettes. Similar analyses to Study 1 indicated a preference for secure and attractive partners, but no effect of participant attachment style on preferences. Overall, the research project demonstrated that both attachment style and physical attractiveness significantly impacted on partner preference. While participant attachment style had some 16 influence on partner preference, this was inconsistent. Future research may benefit from utilising a design with real-life interactions such as speed dating.


Center or Department

School of Psychology and Public Health. Department of Psychology and Counselling.

Thesis type

  • Doctorate

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

Data source

arrow migration 2023-01-10 00:15. Ref: latrobe:43535 (9e0739)

Usage metrics

    Open Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager