Main menu

McClure, M.J., Lydon, J.E., Baccus, J., & Baldwin, M.W. (2010). A signal detection analysis of the anxiously attached at speed-dating: Being unpopular is only the first part of the problem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1024-1036.



Initiating a romantic relationship invokes an approach–avoidance conflict between the desire for affiliation and the fear  of rejection; optimally, people should selectively approach potential partners who reciprocate their interest. This may be  difficult for anxiously attached people: They may be unpopular, and their ambivalence could lead to either a fearfully selective  approach at the cost of missed opportunities or an unselective, indiscriminate approach at the cost of increasing rejection.  Using a speed-dating paradigm, data were collected from 116 participants, and a signal detection framework was applied to  examine the outcomes. For anxious participants, speed-dating attendance was motivated by loneliness. At speed dating, they  were unpopular and unselective; they missed fewer opportunities but made more failed attempts. Anxious men made fewer matches than nonanxious men, whereas anxious women were buffered by having a response bias toward saying “yes” to potential partners. Attachment anxiety predicted outcomes above and beyond the powerful impact of attractiveness.

Full paper

Student paper first