Attachment insecurity (i.e., attachment anxiety or avoidance) puts people at risk for dissatisfying relationships, but positive illusions may buffer against insecurities. In 196 mixed-sexed newlywed couples, I investigated whether spouses’ positive illusions about partner’s dyadic perspective taking moderated the association between spouses’ attachment insecurity and both partners’ marital satisfaction over two years. Multilevel modeling indicated that wives’ positive illusions buffered the contemporaneous negative association between wives’ attachment anxiety and wives’ marital satisfaction, and husbands’ positive illusions buffered the negative associations between husband’s attachment avoidance and both partners’ marital satisfaction. Husbands’ positive illusions also buffered the negative association between husbands’ attachment avoidance and husbands’ subsequent marital satisfaction. Despite this evidence for buffering, there was also evidence for potentiation; husbands’ positive illusions potentiated the negative association between attachment anxiety and subsequent marital satisfaction, and wives’ positive illusions potentiated the negative association between wives’ attachment avoidance and subsequent marital satisfaction. Thus, in the moment, positive illusions may allow spouses to feel happy in their relationship despite insecurities, but positive illusions may not sustain marital satisfaction over time and may even be harmful in the face of insecurity.
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Thesis advisor: Cobb, Rebecca
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