The Influence of Adult Relationship Attachment Style on the Networks of Attention

Poster Presentation: Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Attention: Reward, motivation, emotion

Ralph Redden1 (), Jack Lukeman1, Veda Haggarty1; 1St. Francis Xavier University

Relationship attachment style has been found to influence performance associated with two of the three networks of attention. Adaptations to information processing for individuals with insecure attachment styles are thought to be a result of increased vigilance to external threats. Attachment avoidance has been shown to influence the executive network of attention, wherein individuals higher in attachment avoidance show reduced interference in the standard Eriksen Flanker task. Attachment anxiety has been shown to influence the executive network as well, in addition to the orienting network of attention, wherein individuals higher in attachment anxiety show larger endogenous cueing effects. The current study was designed to replicate these prior findings, and to examine the heretofore untested relationship between attachment styles and the alerting network of attention, all in a single task. AttentionTrip is an engaging, gamified version of the Attention Network Task, played on an iPad tablet. Observers pilot a ship through a tunnel, using helpful signals (spatial and temporal) to prepare for upcoming targets. The correct weapon must be used to destroy targets, which can be flanked congruently or incongruently by distractors. As in previous work, attachment styles were assessed using the Experience in Close Relationships-Revised Questionnaire. Across individuals, robust network scores were observed for each network of attention. Attachment styles modulated the network effects in the same manner as previously observed, although the sizes of the effects of attachment appear to be smaller in our task. Pertaining to the relationship between attachment and the alerting network, no statistically significant finding was observed. However, individuals with insecure attachment showed slightly faster overall aggregate RTs, lending additional support to the hypothesis that adaptations to attention due to insecure attachment are a consequence of increased vigilance.

Acknowledgements: St. Francis Xavier University Council for Research