Among psychologists, the concept of attachment styles has long been known to be a significant predictor of a person's way of relating to others. Backed by longitudinal studies made by both psychologists and biologists, the claims of attachment style theory are well-established. The theory holds that the way we adapt to our caregivers while young imprints us with a basic pattern of handling relationships that carries through to adulthood. Like other primates, young humans probe out the amount of care, safety, and attention that is available in their native environment and form evolutionarily beneficial response strategies.
Relaxed-Engaging (Secure): Relaxed-Engaging individuals tend to have good self-esteem and typically find it easy to share their feelings and opinions with others. They spend less time fretting and second-guessing themselves than individuals in the other three quadrants, and they generally find it easy to ask others for help or support when in need. They are usually straightforward and trusting in their relations with others, and their usual state is one of being open, approachable, and relaxed. For this reason, they typically have fewer interpersonal defenses than others. They naturally seek to connect with others while remaining realistic about the transformative power of intimate relationships: Relaxed-Engaging individuals don't expect to be swept off their feet, or to have their entire world turned upside-down by the arrival of some romantic savior or the like - they're already "comfortable in their own skin," so to speak. Instead, they seek to cultivate simple virtues, such as mutual trust and a sense of shared intimacy with others. They generally don't play games, but seek to establish uncomplicated and mutually beneficial relationships.
On Edge-Engaging (Ambivalent): On Edge-Engaging individuals tend to be very good at attracting the attention and admiration of others around them. Generally, they employ one of two strategies to do so:
In both cases, On Edge-Engaging individuals adopt these strategies because they have a root feeling of ambivalence about others: They feel that others wouldn't notice them and give them their fair due without them being a good Helpmate or Playmate. But at the same time, they also detest others for making them put on this act just to get basic love and validation. In other words, Ambivalent personalities tend to alternate between being sensitive to others and neglecting them; between seeking intense intimacy and driving artificial barriers to closeness in between themselves and others. Some individuals of this type feel a deep-seated sense of injustice towards others for having been made to develop their Helpmate/Playmate persona, instead of just being loved as they are. Because they carry with them this representation of others as being unfair, some On Edge-Engaging individuals may find it easy to excuse themselves from their obligations, or for cheating and/or fudging the truth. In general, Ambivalent individuals tend to be quite good at psychological manipulation and getting others to do what they want, and they often have a high degree of sensitivity and accuracy to other people's emotional states. When in their good graces, being close to an Ambivalent personality may feel like heaven, but once they have decided that you are treating them unfairly, being close to them may easily feel like hell.
Relaxed-Avoidant (Dismissive): Individuals in this quadrant often take a dim view of others, preferring to keep their distance and guard against invasions of their autonomy and privacy. Relaxed-Avoidant personalities tend to have a strong belief that others are too different from them for truly intimate relations to be worthwhile. They may have a spouse and family, and even be solidly anchored in a stable network of friends and acquaintances, but at the end of the day, they tend to avoid entering into relations where emotional interdependence and intimacy are required. Unlike individuals who fall in the On Edge-Avoidant quadrant, Dismissive personalities tend to be quite content keeping their deepest feelings and views to themselves, and they often have a deeply-held belief that the opinions of others are mildly irrelevant or even second-rate. Consequently, many Dismissive types are often quite good at dissimulating, that is, appearing to share their innermost thoughts, while in reality, they are simply appeasing others without ever letting them come close.
Independent and proud of it, these individuals can typically achieve remarkable feats of social manipulation and self-restraint, but on the downside, they may have trouble kicking bad habits (such as drinking or smoking) which they can enjoy in solitude and use to comfort themselves, independently of the company of others. They can frequently be unmotivated or lazy with regard to the duties that others expect of them, but on the other hand, they are often very original (since they are not hindered by concerns about having to conform to the expectations of the group). Finally, they also tend to be intelligent risk-takers, since they are at heart relaxed and cool under fire.
On Edge-Avoidant (Mistrusting): Individuals in this quadrant share the Dismissive type's misgivings about others, but have not developed the armor of coolness and self-sufficiency that allows Dismissive types to live without attachment and bonding. Consequently, Mistrustful types recognize in themselves a need for intimacy and close relations with others, but as soon as they start to get close to others, they also find that they have mixed feelings about the whole ordeal and start fantasizing about breaking it off because they "want their space again." In short, they are neither at ease in solitude nor when close to others. Because of their simultaneous need for and mistrust of intimacy, Mistrusting types have had to spend their lives learning how to skillfully handle other people; continually maneuvering so as to keep others close and available, yet at the same time out of control and powerless to harm the Mistrusting type. Individuals of this type are often high-achieving and competent adults, but on the inside, they tend to suffer from periodic bouts of low self-esteem and be plagued by a sense of hollowness at their core. Mistrusting individuals are frequently very good at finding legitimate fault with others and sniffing out their weaknesses as a way of protecting themselves against being disappointed by others, but on the downside, this hypervigilance also tends to lead to skepticism and overly paranoid tendencies.
The Horizontal Axis: Relaxed-On Edge
This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards themselves. Roughly speaking, individuals who fall towards the Relaxed end of this axis appear self-sufficient, confident, and low in anxiety when engaged in social situations. In short, they give off the impression of being at ease with themselves. By contrast, individuals who fall towards the On Edge end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of being more vulnerable or concerned than their Relaxed counterparts. In a nutshell, On Edge individuals feel a sense of unease about themselves whereas Relaxed individuals tend to be more at ease. A complicating factor in the precise administration of this axis is that On Edge personalities have often learned to counteract their root uneasiness, for example by being intensely gregarious and charming, thus causing others to believe that they really are Relaxed (whereas in reality, they are overcompensating because they feel that if they did not, others would not notice them).
The Vertical Axis: Engaging-Avoidant
This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards others. As a general rule, individuals who fall towards the Engaging end of the axis appear approachable, open-hearted, and open to forming relationships with others. In short, they give off the impression that one could easily become friends with them and form a relation where they will keep you in their thoughts. By contrast, individuals who fall towards the Avoidant end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of independence, coldness, aloofness, and of being hard to approach. In essence, Avoidant individuals feel a sense of unease about others whereas Engaging individuals tend to have fewer fears about forming connections with others. Avoidant individuals may give off the impression of being simply private or closed, but according to Attachment Style Theory, this demeanor is really an adaptation; a counterattack against their root feeling of uneasiness about others. (Note that an Avoidant Attachment Style is not the same as an Avoidant Personality Style.)
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The "CelebrityTypes Revised Attachment Style Test (CTRAS)" is the property of CelebrityTypes International but pays homage to the works of John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Karen Horney, and others. For even more on personality styles, check out our Global Style Test, Style Test A, Style Test B, and Freud Style Test as well.
While this test can help you gauge the extent of your scores on the various scales associated with the four classical attachment styles, it is important to note that test scores do not necessarily translate into real-world assessments, as conducted by certified medical personnel with the respondent physically present and based on extensive interviews with the respondent and reviews of his or her personal and family history, among other things.
Attachment styles allude to the specific way in which an individual identifies with, and relates to, other individuals. A person's attachment style was most often formed at the absolute beginning of their life, most likely during their first two years of life. Once settled, the individual's attachment style tends to stay with them throughout the course of life and to manifest today in the way they relate to others in close relations (including in the way that the person rears their own children). Hence, understanding your own particular attachment style can be immensely useful as a way of gaining insight into how you originally felt about yourself and others during your childhood, and how you may be predisposed to live out these patterns again as an adult.
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