MEANS DIETING SUPPORT, PARTNER SUPPORT OF DIETING AND THE ROLE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
As predicted, women who were anxious in their attachment style reported that their partners were less helpful in their weight-loss efforts (although they did not report that their partners were providing less frequent weight-loss support). Perceptions of how supportive partners were are related by definition to attachment style. Contrary to expectations however, an avoidant attachment style was not related in the same way to perceptions of support. This finding was surprising given past research indicating that avoidantly attached individuals are less likely to seek support and to perceive support as helpful. Self functioning. Against predictions, women who were more depressed and had lower selfesteem did not report they were receiving less frequent or helpful weight-loss support from their partners. This finding was surprising given past research indicating a positive relationship between psychological functioning and perceptions of support. Consistent with this explanation, research has shown that while perceptions of feeling supported are related to better psychological adjustment, conscious receipt of actual supportive behaviours is not related to better adjustment. Support for dieting seems to be a double-edged sword. Attachment style.
What then is the reason for the null result in the current study? One possibility is that the current research evaluated every day perceptions of weight-loss support while past research has often focused on support perceptions in stressful situations. Simpson demonstrated that avoidant individuals reduced their support seeking and giving behaviour as the situation became more anxietyprovoking. Perhaps weight-loss efforts are not stressful enough to activate avoidant behaviours. Relationship satisfaction. Women who reported that they received less frequent or helpful weight-loss support did not report that they were significantly less satisfied in their relationships, nor did they have male partners who reported that they were less satisfied. However, while the results were not significant, there was a trend in the predicted direction for women who were more satisfied with their relationship to report their partner was providing more frequent and helpful weight-loss support (r = .22 and .23). This trend is in line with research suggesting that more support is provided within the context of a satisfying relationship. Partners in a satisfying relationship are more likely to feel committed and want to provide support to their partner. The provision of this support then appears to further increase relationship satisfaction, with support being an important aspect of a satisfying close relationship.