Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences


Crying is an attachment behavior that functions to elicit support from others (Nelson, 1998); the context in which the crying occurs is important in understanding whether it is adaptive or maladaptive (Hendriks & Vingerhoets, 2006). However, very little research has examined whether and how attachment style is associated with adult crying, and if this association might vary by an individual’s relationship status. Using a sample of 305 first-year college students and a series of hierarchical regressions, we examined the moderating effect of relationship status on the associations between attachment style (measured using the Revised Experiences in Close Relationships Scale; Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000) and crying frequency and tendency. We found that attachment anxiety was positively associated with both crying frequency and tendency, whereas attachment avoidance was negatively associated with crying tendency. However, we found moderation effects only in the case of attachment avoidance; specifically, we found that attachment avoidance was associated with a lower frequency of crying and tendency to cry only for those individuals involved in romantic relationships. Attachment anxiety, on the other hand, was associated with greater crying frequency and tendency regardless of relationship status. These results demonstrate not only that crying may act as an attachment behavior, but also that the activation or deactivation of this particular attachment behavior may be dependent on the existence of a romantic attachment figure.