Attachment theory and Big Five Personality traits

From what I can see, attachment theory seeks to describe behaviors in infants and children that we generally carry on to later in life.

  • Secure attachment occurs when children feel they can rely on their caregivers to attend to their needs of proximity, emotional support and protection. It is considered to be the best attachment style.
  • Anxious-ambivalent attachment occurs when the infant feels separation anxiety when separated from the caregiver and does not feel reassured when the caregiver returns to the infant.
  • Anxious-avoidant attachment occurs when the infant avoids their parents.
  • Disorganized attachment occurs when there is a lack of attachment behavior.

The Big Five personality traits has some similar concepts that describe behavior from a traits perspective. I use the Big Five over something like Myers Briggs typology as it is one of the more scientifically validated tests.

  • Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictability or lack of focus, and more likely to engage in risky behaviour or drug taking.[5] Also, individuals that have high openness tend to lean, in occupation and hobby, towards the arts, being, typically, creative and appreciative of the significance of intellectual and artistic pursuits.[6]:191 Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences. Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven—sometimes even perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret and contextualize the openness factor.[clarification needed]
  • Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless). Tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior. High conscientiousness is often perceived as being stubborn and focused. Low conscientiousness is associated with flexibility and spontaneity, but can also appear as sloppiness and lack of reliability.[7]
  • Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energetic, surgency, assertiveness, sociability and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, and talkativeness. High extraversion is often perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Low extraversion causes a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed.[7] Extroverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting.[6]
  • Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached). Tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one’s trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person is generally well-tempered or not. High agreeableness is often seen as naive or submissive. Low agreeableness personalities are often competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as argumentative or untrustworthy.[7]
  • Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). Tendency to be prone to psychological stress.[6] The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, “emotional stability”. High stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. Low stability manifests as the reactive and excitable personality often found in dynamic individuals, but can be perceived as unstable or insecure.[7] Also, individuals with higher levels of neuroticism tend to have worse psychological well being.[8]

In general, I think the “attachment theory” traits are just combinations of the Big Five personality traits.  For instance,

  • Secure attachment – higher on openness, higher on extraversion, high on agreeable, low on neuroticism
  • Anxious-ambivalent – low on openness, low on extraversion, moderate on agreeable, high on neuroticism
  • Avoidant – Probably low on openness, low on extraversion, very low on agreeableness (so very disagreeable), and high on neuroticism (high psychological stress through very easily negative emotionally affected).
  • Disorganized – combinations of them that don’t mix well.

Recognizing these things things as a combination of traits that can be worked on and counseled is important.

Also from the above link:

A study of gender differences in 55 nations using the Big Five Inventory found that women tended to be somewhat higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The difference in neuroticism was the most prominent and consistent, with significant differences found in 49 of the 55 nations surveyed. Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and more gender-egalitarian cultures. A plausible explanation for this is that acts by women in individualistic, egalitarian countries are more likely to be attributed to their personality, rather than being attributed to ascribed gender roles within collectivist, traditional countries

This makes some sense, and generally higher scores on neuroticism have issues with trust and bonding and more easily respond to psychological negative emotions. This is why women tend to have higher diagnosed bipolar and other psychological disorders. This is also why it can be more useful to be kind(er) to women than men in regard to Christian instruction, especially correction, admonishment, and rebuke.

All in all, I think knowledge of such trends is used to recognize in those important to you like family, friends and others, so that you can use it to influence them well as a Christian and help raise them up in spiritual maturity.

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6 Responses to Attachment theory and Big Five Personality traits

  1. Lexet Blog says:

    A problem I have with big five and Myers Briggs is it creates this fatalistic mindset that you can’t change, and are permanently trapped. Yes, we all have a personality that is somewhat inflexible, but we are capable of working on areas of weakness. Many take Myers Briggs only once. If you have taken it multiple times throughout the years, you will notice that the scores shift, sometimes wildly.

  2. @ Lexet Blog

    Myers Briggs is not scientifically validated while Big Five is.

    That is a good point though. Personality traits are somewhat ‘fixed’ but we can change our behavior and work around certain areas where we have weaknesses.

    A lot of people think they are the way they are and are not amenable to any type of change and rather blame those around them instead.

  3. Lexet Blog says:

    Mbti will be around for awhile because it’s a generational fixation, and was part of curriculum for so long

  4. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Personality traits are somewhat ‘fixed’ but we can change our behavior and work around certain areas where we have weaknesses.”

    Over the course of my first 25-30 years of life, I went from a somewhat mild-to-moderate introvert, to a mild extrovert, to a full-blown extrovert. Both changes occurred during major life events at ages 14 and 25. The change at 14 was unexpected, but the change at 25 was an intentional and conscious decision to change myself. Those who know me now would not recognize the person I was. I don’t know how unusual this is or what a Big Five test would have shown had I taken it.

  5. That Brotha Pedat says:

    Glad you decided to speak on this.

    While personality traits are not necessarily fixed, they are not that easily transformed, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, constant loving counsel and admonition – made easier by introspection and humility, but most importantly STAYING IN YOUR LANE.

    I wholeheartedly believe that in Red Pill circles we oversimplify such things as it concerns female fuckery.

    For example, a so-called Christian marriage where the woman who is anxious-attached is paired with a dismissive-avoidant man is going to be a complete train-wreck. We in the RP manosphere is going to say that the woman needs to get the fuck over her “feelz” due to a lack of bond and connection with a loveless dismissive man, and BP Christians are going to tell him that he’s not “loving” or sacrificial or “sensitive” enough.

    The bottom line, in our circles, is that they are both going to have to suffer. Period. If they didn’t have sense enough to find out how the other person was raised, and why one is too “needy”..or why the other is “indifferent”. Tough.

    I know 8 Christian couples like this. Both the male and female are miserable and bitter. Telling the women they can’t get a divorce because their husbands are callous and indifferent, and I mean LEGITIMATELY so (I’m not bullshitting…a couple of these guys are two words from getting their damn blocks knocked off by either myself or even their own family members) and telling the man he can’t go get a sidepiece because their wife is a neurotic trainwreck who won’t allow him to touch her…is a sad situation.

    I’m never going to tell a woman about “the marital debt” when it’s CLEAR the husband wouldn’t piss on her if she were on fire, and I’m not going to tell a man to render the same to a woman who sits in a dark room all day crying because she can’t cope with life. I’m going to remain silent. If either of them decides to leave permanently, I”m going to remain silent on that too.

    Everyone needs to choose a partner in their own lane. And even that isn’t as simple as it sounds.

    Every married couple I know is miserable. And by miserable, I mean fucking miserable…and there is no abuse or adultery present either. Just apathy and despair. Quite sad.

  6. @ Pedat

    For example, a so-called Christian marriage where the woman who is anxious-attached is paired with a dismissive-avoidant man is going to be a complete train-wreck. We in the RP manosphere is going to say that the woman needs to get the fuck over her “feelz” due to a lack of bond and connection with a loveless dismissive man, and BP Christians are going to tell him that he’s not “loving” or sacrificial or “sensitive” enough.

    That’s the whole point of the vetting process though. The Church says nothing about vetting other than some vague stuff about ‘yellow and red flags’ and even these are quite obvious.

    If a relationship goes great, except in areas of conflict that’s pretty normal. But it’s the areas of conflict that are going to be the make or break moments of the relationship.

    I’m fond counseling men about their own character flaws or deficiencies as a primary thing. Any character flaws or deficiencies you take into a relationship or marriage will only be much more magnified. Same with a spouse. Once you can put two and two together to work on those through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can generally see those changes in the person which in turn influences the relationship.

    I know 8 Christian couples like this. Both the male and female are miserable and bitter. Telling the women they can’t get a divorce because their husbands are callous and indifferent, and I mean LEGITIMATELY so (I’m not bullshitting…a couple of these guys are two words from getting their damn blocks knocked off by either myself or even their own family members) and telling the man he can’t go get a sidepiece because their wife is a neurotic trainwreck who won’t allow him to touch her…is a sad situation.
    I’m never going to tell a woman about “the marital debt” when it’s CLEAR the husband wouldn’t piss on her if she were on fire, and I’m not going to tell a man to render the same to a woman who sits in a dark room all day crying because she can’t cope with life. I’m going to remain silent. If either of them decides to leave permanently, I”m going to remain silent on that too.

    Sounds like they need to start with the basics from Scripture.

    Put God first and honor Him with their actions. Once you put God first, it’s easier to accept that you need to change because we as humans will always default to sin if we’re not focusing exclusively on doing what God says.

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