, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1-15
Date: 18 Jul 2012

Relationship Formation and Early Risk Exposure: Diverging Associations with Romantic Self-Concept and Attachment

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Abstract

Early risk exposure reportedly influences romantic relationship formation via an increase in sexualized reproductive strategies and attachment insecurity. Because these are risk adaptations that predict differing interactions in romantic relationships and are complexly related to gender, two studies focused on these features in relation to relationship formation in emerging adulthood. Beyond confirming that self-reported early risk exposure was associated with a more sexualized romantic self-concept, greater numbers of relationships, and greater attachment insecurity, “Study 1” confirmed a hypothesized four-way interaction between gender, early risk, romantic self-concept, and attachment style. “Study 2” clarified the interaction through a regression model predicting a sexualized romantic self-concept differently for men and women. A structural equation model including all the study variables confirmed the hypothesis that pathways for men primarily predicted unrestricted sexuality (i.e., numbers of casual relationships), whereas the pathways for women included direct effects from risk and indicators of committed relationships.