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Attachment theory – Two different lines of research

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1 Attachment theory – Two different lines of research
Anneli Frostell Div. of Cognition, Development and Disability Dept. of Behavioral Science and Learning Linköping university

2 Two lines of research The Romantic Attachment approach
The “original” approach Developmental psychology Parent – Child Laboratory assessments/interview Gold standard Reliability issue (inter-rater reliability) Expensive The Romantic Attachment approach Social psychology Adult – Adult (partners) Self-rating questionnaires Validity issue - measure something else, but related Inexpensive Attachment patterns Attachment styles

3 Theoretical origins John Bowlby (1969, 1973, 1980)
Innate attachment system Mary Ainsworth The secure base concept The Strange Situation (1978) Balance: attachment and exploration systems Individual differences based on the quality of care Mary Main The Adult Attachment Interview (1985) Frightened/Frightening (FR) Phases of the theory: 0-3 months Non-discriminating social responsiveness 3-6 m Discriminating social responsiveness 6-36 m (Sensitive period) Active initiative in contact seeking and proximity maintaining > 36 m Goal corrected partnership Stages of separation: Hours 1 week Protest Days weeks Despair Weeks Detachment Internal working models (IWM) Bretherton, I. (1992). Dev Psych, 28(5),

4 The “original” approach
Focus on babies and the impact of maternal sensitivity on their emotional regulation and socioemotional development. Consequences of own early attachment related experiences on parental capabilities Methods: The Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) Doll-play (M-cast) Story stems

5 Strange Situation Procedure (SSP)
20 minute long laboratory procedure Elevating distress through two separations in order to activate the attachment system Manual based coding – extended training, interreliability Main scales: Indices of Disorganization and Disorientation: Proximity-/ contact-seeking behavior Sequential display of contradictory behavior patterns Contact-maintaining behavior Simultaneous display of contradictory behavior patterns Resistant behavior Undirected, Misdirected, Incomplete, and Interrupted movements and expressions Avoidant behavior Stereotypies, Asymmetrical movements, Mistimed movements, and Anomalous postures Freezing, Stilling, and Slowed movements and expressions Direct indices of disorganization or disorientation

6 Behaviors and causes (SSP)
Patterns of behavior in SSP A Avoidant: Poss. weak signs of missing. Avoid/ignore the parent upon reunion. B Secure: Signs of missing. Active proximity seeking upon reunion and can use the parent as a safe have to calm down. C Ambivalent/Resistant: Angry, clinging, avoidant, or passive upon reunion. Focuses on the parent but cannot calm down. D Disorganized/Disoriented: Disorganized or disoriented behaviors when the parent is present. No coherent strategy. Patterns of care-giving at home A Avoidant: Emotional distance, lack of sensitivity to child signals. Rejection. Predictable. B Secure: Responsive. Emotional closeness, sensitivity and respect. Predictable. C Ambivalent/Resistant: Inconsistently available. Role reversal. Blurred boundaries. Unpredictable. D Disorganized/Disoriented: Frightened/frightening or Hostile/helpless. Possibly maltreatment.

7 Internal Working Models (IWM)
Appropriate responses to positive and negative emotions  awareness of emotions and controlling behaviors Well-coordinated regulatory patterns contributes to self-regulation and a integrated sense of self 9-12 month: IWM develops to represent the emotions and expectations of early dyadic patterns of interactions (Bowlby 1969, 1973, 1980) IWM: Conceptual representation of self, others, and the world, enables to predict and interpret others behaviors and plan own response. Based on Riggs, 2010

8 Continuity of attachment
The early attachment pattern becomes an essential component of the personality (Bowlby, 1988; Ainsworth, 1989) Stability of classification from infancy via 6 years to adolescence and early adulthood (Grossmann, Grossmann & Waters, 2005) Lawful discontinuity depending of disruptive life events, e.g. death and maltreatment (Allen et al, 2004) Theoretically, partly explained by IWMs impact on cognitive-affective processes (Cassidy, 2000): - direct attention to specific stimuli - create bias in memory encoding and retrieval - guide expectations regarding availability of others - influences attributions regarding ambiguous behaviors Based on Riggs, 2010

9 Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)
Captures current representations of early attachment experiences (IWMs) Surprising the unconscious Transcribed verbatim and coded on 17 9-point scales (Scales for: Inferred Experience, States of mind regarding parent, Overall states of mind Extreme experiences and states of mind) Manual based – extended training, interreliability


11 AAI classifications F Secure-Autonomous Value close relations, but is relatively independent & objective concerning early close relationships. Ds Dismissing Lack of memory, normalizing & idealizing or derogating the parent and early relations with him/her. E Preoccupied Passive or angry. Long irrelevant answers. Mentally entangled or preoccupied with early close relations. (U/d) Unresolved/Disorganized (F, Ds or E plus U/d) Trauma/Loss. Marked mistakes in reasoning or discourse

12 Attachment is transmitted over generations
Secure Secure: F in the parent gives B in the baby Insecure Avoidant: Ds in the parent gives A in the baby Ambivalent: E in the parent gives C in the baby The AAI of the mother predicts A, B or C in the child in 75% of the cases Ref: van IJzendoorn (1995). Psychol Bull. May;117(3): (n=661)

13 Selection of newer methods
Doll-play (M-cast) Story stems (secure base scripts) (Waters & Waters, Attach Hum Dev, 2006; 8(3): 185 – 197) MacArthur Preschool Strange Situation (Cassidy & Marvin, 1992)

14 Limitations of SSP and AAI
Long training Time consuming data collection and coding (plus AAI transcriptions) 10% of cases double coded for inter-rater reliability Expensive research on small groups conducted by few researchers

15 The social psychology approach
Hazan and Shaver (1987) - the first to explore Bowlby's ideas in the context of romantic relationships. Self-rated paper and pen questionnaires Early: Choose one of three categories Now: Dimensions of avoidance and anxiety

16 Hazan & Shaver, 1987 A. I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, others want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being. 60% B. I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don't worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me. 20% C. I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn't really love me or won't want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away. 20%

17 Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998

18 RSQ – model of self/others
Self Model - patterns characterized by negative self models minus patterns characterized by positive self models (fearful + preoccupied) MINUS (secure + dismissing) higher scores will refer to more negative models of self. Other Model - patterns characterized by positive other models minus patterns characterized by negative other models (secure + preoccupied) MINUS (fearful + dismissing)

19 Examples from different instruments
Relationship Styles Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Batholomew, 1994) Experiences of Close Relationships (ECR-R; Fraley, Waller & Brennan, ) I find it difficult to depend on other people. (Avoidant) I am nervous when partners get too close to me. (Avoidant) I am comfortable without close emotional relationships. (Avoidant) I prefer not to show a partner how I feel deep down. (Avoidant) I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others. (Anxiety) I find that my partner(s) don't want to get as close as I would like. (Anxiety) People are never there when you need them. (Anxiety) I often worry that my partner will not want to stay with me. (Anxiety)

20 Two lines of research The Romantic Attachment approach
The “original” approach Developmental psychology Parent – Child Laboratory assessments/interview Gold standard Reliability issue (inter-rater reliability) Expensive The Romantic Attachment approach Social psychology Adult – Adult (partners) Self-rating questionnaires Validity issue - measure something else, but related Inexpensive Attachment patterns Attachment styles

21 Assignment to seminar Seminar paper:
Can we talk about one attachment theory? Compare the concepts of attachment styles and attachment patterns. Do they measure the same thing, related things or different things? Take a stand and argue for your position. Questions to discuss: Discuss methodological strengths and weaknesses of the attachment theory. Try to be critical of the attachment theory. What are the weak points? Articles to read: Ein-Dor, T., Mikulincer, M., Doron, G. & Shaver, P. R. (2010). The Attachment Paradox: How Can So Many of Us (the Insecure Ones) Have No Adaptive Advantages? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5: Riggs, S. A. (2010). Childhood Emotional Abuse and the Attachment System Across the Life Cycle: What Theory and Research Tell Us. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19: 1, 5-51.

22 References Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Dev Psych, 28(5), Fraley, R.C ., Waller, N.G. & Brennan, K.A. (2000). An item response theory analysis of self-report measures of adult attachmnet. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, Kurdek, L.A. (2002) On being insecure about the assessment of attachment styles. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Vol. 19(6): 811–834 ECR-R: RSQ:

23 Recommended literature
Broberg, A., Granqvist, P., Ivarsson, T. & Risholm Mothander, P. (2006). Anknytningsteori – Betydelsen av nära relationer. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur Broberg, A., Risholm Mothander, P., Granqvist, P., & Ivarsson, T. (2008). Anknytningsteori i praktiken. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P.R. (red.). (1999/2010) Handbook of Attachment. New York: The Guilford Press. Goldberg, S. (2000). Attachment and Development. London: Arnold Bowlby, J. (1994). En Trygg Bas. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur. Leach, P. (2000). De första fem åren: En ny version för en ny generation. Stockholm: Bonnier (1999) Hwang, P. (red.). (1999) Spädbarnets psykologi. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur

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