Attachment Security Predicts Tend-and-Befriend Behaviors: A Replication

Jessica K. Hlay, Benjamin N. Johnson, Kenneth N. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In 2000, Taylor and colleagues proposed the “tend-and-befriend” hypothesis, which posits that women utilize an alternative stress response to fight-or-flight, promoting the survival of themselves and their offspring (tend) through the formation of groups (befriend). Although there has been support for this hypothesis since, Levy and colleagues (2019) demonstrated that while sexes may differentially use tend-andbefriend behaviors, attachment orientation is a more robust predictor of these behaviors. In the current investigation, we aim to replicate Levy et al. (2019) using the same methodology with 2 unique samples: a university sample (N = 557) and an online global community sample (N = 300). Results support previous findings, such that across groups attachment anxiety positively predicts all 3 stress responses, and attachment avoidance negatively predicts tend/befriend responses, all independent of sex. We also found that, after accounting for general stress reactivity, tend-and-befriend response was associated with greater attachment security, unlike fight-or-flight responses. There were no consistent sex differences across the samples until after accounting for general stress reactivity, at which point women endorsed more flight response and men more fight response; however, women and men both endorsed being most likely to engage in tend/ befriend behaviors during stress than other responses. Our findings, in addition to Levy et al. (2019), suggest that while sex differences in self-reported tend-and-befriend behaviors may exist, exploration within sex (an important oversight of previous research) indicates a different pattern of results. We found evidence that attachment orientation is a robust predictor of all forms of stress response, even after accounting for sex, indicating the importance of attachment behavior in stress responsivity and largely replicating previous results of Levy et al. (2019).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 3 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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