They May Disapprove, but I Still Love You: Attachment Behaviors Moderate the Effect of Social Disapproval on Marital Relationship Quality


attachment behaviors, approval, relationship quality


The degree of approval for a relationship from one's social network has been shown to predict relationship outcomes. Additional research has shown that attachment can buffer the negative effects of various factors (e.g., depression) on relationships. Using an actor–partner interdependence model in an SEM framework, we research the effects of disapproval from parents and friends for one's relationship on marital relationship quality for self and partner in a sample of 858 married couples. We also examine whether each spouse's attachment behaviors can moderate these effects. Results indicated that one's own attachment behaviors moderate the effects of their own parents' and friends' disapproval on their self‐reported relationship quality for both men and women. Partner's attachment behaviors moderate own friend's disapproval on self‐reported relationship quality for men and women; additionally, the main effect of partner's friends' and parents' disapproval became nonsignificant with that test. The findings provide evidence that attachment behaviors of both partners play a role in buffering the negative effects of the social network disapproval on relationship outcomes. Clinical implications are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Bradford, A.B., Drean, L.*, Sandberg, J.G., & Johnson, L.N. (2019). They may disapprove, but I still love you: Attachment behaviors moderate the effect of social disapproval on marital relationship quality. Family Process.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Process




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor