Relationship influences on exploration in adulthood: the characteristics and function of a secure base.
This investigation advances theory and research regarding relationship influences on exploration in adulthood. This is accomplished by (a) identifying important characteristics of a secure base, (b) examining the influence of the presence or absence of these characteristics on exploration behavior in adulthood, and (c) identifying individual-difference factors that are predictive of the provision and receipt of secure base support. In 2 sessions, married couples (N = 167) provided reports of relationship dynamics involving exploration, and they participated in an exploration activity that was videotaped and coded by independent observers. Results indicated that the 3 identified characteristics of a secure base (availability, noninterference, and encouragement) are strongly predictive of exploration behavior, and that the provision and receipt of these behaviors can be predicted by individual differences in attachment. Implications of results and contributions to existing literature are discussed.