Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Joshua Hart




fear of change, adult attachment, satisfaction, commitment, relationships


Imagine being in a bad relationship where your expectations are not being met and you are clearly unhappy. Although people's level of satisfaction varies in committed relationships, what makes someone stay committed to a bad relationship is still in question. One theoretical explanation comes from attachment theory, which posits that relationship dynamics are associated with particular attachment styles. In particular, individuals who exhibit attachment anxiety depend more on their partners, which ironically increases their commitment to them even when the relationship is unsatisfying. One reason for this may be that anxiously attached individuals are fearful of change because it becomes harder to leave a relationship the longer they invest in and depend on it. This study investigated if elevated fear of change in anxiously attached individuals is associated with greater commitment to a dissatisfying relationship. 267 participants (122 men and 143 women), aged 21-67, who were in committed romantic relationships for at least one year, completed a survey online via’s Mechanical Turk. Participants completed questionnaires that each measured attachment style, degree of commitment, relationship satisfaction, fear of change in the context of relationships as well as fear of change generally. It was found that due to elevated fear of change, anxiously attached individuals demonstrated greater commitment than would be expected given their level of relationship satisfaction. The opposite was true for individuals high in attachment avoidance. This gives us further insight into relationship dynamics and provides us with an understanding of the phenomenon of commitment to unhappy relationships.