Attachment Anxiety and Intentions to Use Condoms: the Moderating Effects of Interpersonal Rejection
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The purpose of this research program was to examine how attachment anxiety and rejection interact to influence intentions and attitudes toward having unprotected sexual intercourse. I hypothesized that women who were high in attachment anxiety would hold weaker intentions to use a condom and would have more negative attitudes toward condoms than would women who were low in attachment anxiety. Moreover, I predicted that these expected main effects of anxiety on intentions and attitudes would interact with rejection, such that the association between high anxiety and both weak intentions and negative attitudes would be exacerbated among women that were exposed to a rejection-salient condition. I explored the interaction of interest in the context of specific romantic partner rejection (Study One) as well as general social rejection from peers (Study Two). In Study One, I manipulated potential partner rejection and found that attachment anxiety and rejection condition interacted to influence intentions to engage in unprotected sex. In the rejection condition, attachment anxiety was marginally positively related to intentions whereas in the non-rejection condition, attachment anxiety was marginally negatively related to intentions. Upon further investigation of this same interaction, I found that among women who were high in attachment anxiety, rejection condition did not significantly impact intention ratings. However, among women who were low in attachment anxiety, those who were rejected reported significantly weaker intentions to engage in unprotected sex than those who were not rejected. Attitudes toward condoms were not influenced by the interaction between attachment anxiety and rejection condition. In Study Two, I manipulated general social rejection and found that the intentions results from Study One were not replicated, as general social rejection and attachment anxiety did not interact to influence intentions to engage in unprotected sex. Once again, attitudes toward condoms were not influenced by this interaction. Explanations for the findings of Study One and Study Two are explored and implications of both studies’ findings for the literature on condom use and for sexual health promotion are discussed.