Seeing human when feeling insecure and wanting closeness: a systematic review

Cathy Kwok, Cassandra Crone, Yasmina Ardern, Melissa M. Norberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    A systematic review of the literature was conducted to evaluate whether an insecure attachment style is associated with greater anthropomorphic tendencies. We searched eight electronic databases and checked reference lists for eligible studies. After removing duplicates, 1022 titles and abstracts were appraised for eligibility. Eligible studies were those that assessed insecure attachment and anthropomorphism of non-living entities, presented original data, contained sufficient data for computing effect sizes, and were written in English. We deemed 30 articles potentially eligible and read their full texts. Six studies were eligible, with a total of 1341 participants. A quality assessment tool was used to assess the quality of the included studies. Two independent raters achieved 85% agreement on the quality appraisal of the studies. The quality of the included studies was poor, with 10.7% of items coded zero (did not meet criterion at all), and an overall average quality rating of 60%. A narrative review of the eligible studies highlighted that anxious attachment and anthropomorphic tendencies are positively and moderately related, but that attachment avoidance is not related to anthropomorphism. Given the poor quality of the research to date, better quality research is needed to more conclusively establish whether and how insecure attachment styles are related to anthropomorphic tendencies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


    • anthropomorphism
    • anxious attachment
    • avoidant attachment
    • insecure attachment
    • interpersonal relations
    • object attachment


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