The Power of Words: Gendered Language in Attachment Measures presented at the 69th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Conference 2008
Concurrent with the proliferation of research in adult attachment are concerns about the measurement of the attachment construct. Given traditional gender differences in relationship socialization practices, studies focused on gender and attachment have been remarkably absent. 224 introductory psychology students responded to a survey containing 6 different attachment measures. Separate multivariate analyses of variances were used to evaluate mean gender differences across attachment subscales. Significant gender differences were evident in all of the analyses. A smaller independent sample evaluated the gendered language of 64 phrases taken from 3 attachment measures. Participants rated each item in terms of masculinty-feminity on a 7-point scale. A series of one-sample t-tests against a fixed mid-point indicated significant variation away from the neutral in rating items as either masculine or feminine. Consistent with propensities, based on self-evaluations, for males (e.9., dismissing uncomfortable with relationships) and females (e.9., preoccupied, need for approval) to more frequently be categorized in stereotypical ways, items and subscales reflecting these findings were evaluated in the same stereotypical ways. Results are discussed in terms of gender bias inherent in the language used to construct attachment scales and their impacts can the validity of these scales.