Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 149–174

Adult Attachment Style and Cognitive Reactions to Positive Affect: A Test of Mental Categorization and Creative Problem Solving


  • Mario Mikulincer
    • Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan University
  • Elka Sheffi
    • Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan University

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005606611412

Cite this article as:
Mikulincer, M. & Sheffi, E. Motivation and Emotion (2000) 24: 149. doi:10.1023/A:1005606611412


Three studies examined the moderating effect of attachment style on cognitive reactions to positive affect inductions. In Study 1 (N = 110), participants completed attachment style scales, were asked to retrieve a happy or a neutral memory, and, then, performed a categorization task. Study 2 (N = 120) used the same affect induction, while examining creative problem solving in the Remote Associates Test. Study 3 (N = 120) replicated Study 2, while using another affect induction (watching a comedy film) and controlling for trait anxiety scores. Overall, securely attached persons reacted to positive affect with broader categorization and better performance in creative problem-solving tasks. Anxious–ambivalent persons showed an opposite pattern of cognitive reactions to positive affect, and avoidant persons showed no difference in their cognitive reactions to positive and neutral affect inductions. The discussion emphasizes the role that attachment-related strategies of affect regulation may play in episodes of positive affect.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000