Gaining feedback acceptance: Leader-member attachment style and psychological safety

Manuel London*, Judith Volmer, Jetmir Zyberaj, Avraham N. Kluger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This conceptual article develops a model of how attachment style affects how leaders give feedback and members' react to it. Drawing on attachment theory, we propose that leaders whose trait attachment style is grounded in a desire for security are likely to deliver feedback that is constructive—that is, specific, frequent, timely, behavioral, and future-focused expressed in a way that establishes psychological safety. Leaders who have an anxious attachment style do not want to give members unfavorable feedback that may cause a negative reaction. Leaders who avoid attachment are likely to present little feedback or present unfavorable feedback in a manner that is not constructive—potentially blunt and ego-threatening. Our model also predicts that team members' trait attachment style influences their feedback acceptance mediated by their feelings of psychological safety, with secure attachment style members benefiting most from constructive feedback. Further, we consider how the match (or mismatch) in attachment style between the leader and member influences their reactions to each other as the leader offers feedback and the member reacts. This has implications for assessing the fit between the leader's and team member's attachment styles and designing HR interventions for more constructive feedback and positive reactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100953
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Attachment style
  • Feedback acceptance
  • Performance feedback
  • Psychological safety


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