Avoiding affection, avoiding altruism: Why is avoidant attachment related to less helping?

Stephanie B. Richman, C. Nathan DeWall, Michelle N. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Avoidantly, compared to securely, attached people help less often and perceive the costs of helping as more severe. Helping relates to empathy and closeness, which may cause avoidantly attached people discomfort. We tested the hypothesis that reducing the potential for emotional closeness for avoidantly attached people would offset their unhelpfulness with one correlational and one experimental study. In Study 1, amongst a sample of 234 people on Mechanical Turk, avoidant attachment related to donating less money to human- and animal-related charities, but not a charity that did not foster emotional closeness. This relationship was mediated by empathy. In Study 2, amongst a sample of 193 college students, avoidantly attached people who believed that their emotions were temporarily unchangeable helped as much as people low in avoidant attachment. Reducing the potential emotional cost of helping increases helping amongst people who are avoidantly attached.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-197
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adult attachment
  • Emotion
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Intimacy
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Avoiding affection, avoiding altruism: Why is avoidant attachment related to less helping?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this