Adult attachment and relationship satisfaction: The mediating role of gratitude toward the partner

Manja Vollmann, Sem Sprang, Femke van den Brink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous research indicated that insecure attachment, that is, higher levels of attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety, is negatively associated with relationship satisfaction. The present study investigated the mediating role of gratitude toward the partner in this association. In a cross-sectional design, 362 participants (84% female, age range 18–70 years) involved in a romantic relationship completed an online questionnaire assessing attachment avoidance and anxiety, gratitude toward the partner, and relationship satisfaction. Data were analyzed by means of regression and bootstrap analyses. The regression analysis revealed significant negative total and direct effects of both avoidance and anxiety on relationship satisfaction. The bootstrap analyses revealed a significant negative indirect effect of avoidance, but not anxiety, on relationship satisfaction via gratitude toward the partner. Specifically, higher levels of avoidant attachment were related to less gratitude toward the partner, which in turn was associated with lower relationship satisfaction. These findings suggest that it might be valuable applying gratitude interventions to clients high in attachment avoidance attending couples therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3875–3886
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Adult attachment
  • attachment anxiety
  • attachment avoidance
  • gratitude toward the partner
  • relationship satisfaction


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