Attachment hierarchies in Bangladeshi women in couple‐initiated and arranged marriages

Sharon M. Flicker, Flavia Sancier‐Barbosa, Farhana Afroz, Sumaiya N. Saif, Faeqa Mohsin
Published Online:
11 Sep 2019

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Attachment theory posits that in adulthood, romantic partners typically fill the role of primary attachment figure, yet few studies have examined whether these findings hold in cultures that practice arranged marriage or that emphasise collectivistic values and filial piety. In the current study, we compared attachment hierarchies in 116 Bangladeshi women engaged to be married or in the first 3 years of couple‐initiated (also known as love) marriages and arranged marriages. Women in couple‐initiated marriages reported greater use of their partners for the attachment functions of safe haven and secure base than women in arranged marriages. However, women in both groups were more likely to identify one of their parents than their partner as their primary attachment figure. Although replication is necessary, these findings suggest that partners may not be universally prioritised above parents in the attachment hierarchy and that attachment theory's assumptions of individuation from parents in adulthood may not apply cross‐culturally. Findings are discussed in terms of cultural differences from samples previously represented in attachment research, such as kinship structures, the meaning of marriage and filial piety.

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