Experimentally induced security influences responses to psychological pain

Jude Cassidy, Phillip R. Shaver, Mario Mikulincer, Shiri Lavy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested the hypothesis that experimentally induced security changes people's response to psychological pain (operationalized in terms of hurt feelings) in ways that depend on their attachment style. Seventy undergraduates were randomly assigned to receive (a) security-enhancing subliminal primes (the words love, secure, affection) or (b) neutral subliminal primes (lamp, staple, building). As expected, interactions emerged between priming condition and attachment style. In the neutral priming condition, avoidant attachment was associated with a tendency to dismiss hurtful events, inhibit expressions of distress, and react hostilely; as expected, security priming caused avoidance to be associated with greater openness to the pain of a hurtful experience. A significant interaction also emerged between attachment anxiety and security priming. In the neutral priming condition, attachment anxiety was associated with less constructive reactions and more intense feelings of rejection, more crying, and more neg tive emotions; these associations were weaker and generally insignificant in the security-priming condition. Thus, security priming influenced people's response to psychological pain in different ways, depending on their particular attachment style and the defenses associated with it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-478
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimentally induced security influences responses to psychological pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this