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Date of Award



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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: Clinical



First Advisor

Theresa Martin

Second Advisor

Amani El-Alayli

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Kawaguchi


"Friends with benefits (FWB), is defined as a relationship between friends in which the friends engage in sexual activity, but do not define their relationship as romantic or committed (Bisson & Levine, 2009; Epstein, Calzo, Smiler, & Ward, 2009; Lehmiller, VanderDrift, & Kelly, 2011 ; Puentes, Knox, & Zusman, 2008). When examining intimate and interpersonal relationships, attachment theory is considered a key component in shaping the quality and type of relationship a person becomes involved in (Cassidy, & Shaver, 1999). Past research has found relational and sexual differences among secure, avoidant, and anxiously attached individuals. In the current study, attachment styles were examined in three different relationship types; romantic relationships (exclusive partner, fiance, or spouse), friends with benefits (a friend whom you have sex with on an ongoing basis but do not feel a sense of commitment or romance), and casual encounters (casual acquaintance or stranger whom you have a sexual encounter only once). It was predicted that due to the differences between each of these relational styles, specific patterns would emerge in the attachment styles of those involved. Specifically, individuals in a romantic relationship would be more likely to be securely attached, individuals in friends with benefits would be more likely to be anxiously attached, and individuals in casual encounters would be more likely to be avoidantly attached. A sample of 213 college participants completed a questionnaire about their current relationship and attachment style. Findings indicated that individuals in romantic/committed relationships were more secure and had significantly lower scores of both anxious and avoidant attachment compared to FWB relationships, casual encounters, and single individuals. No differences were found between FWB and casual encounter attachment scores. This is consistent with past research that has shown that individuals in committed relationships tend to have secure attachments (Kirkpatrick & Davis, 1994), and that individuals with insecure attachment, both anxious and avoidant, are more likely to engage in short-term mating and are more accepting of casual sex (Gentzler & Kerns, 2004; Schmitt, 2005)"--Document.


Typescript. Vita.