Attachment Research: What’s New in Psychology?

Well, perhaps not so new. Attachment research has been done for quite some time, but the findings and applications have been broadening. Attachment is generally refers to the early bond one forms with mother (or another caretaker) during infancy.

Early research, much of it psychoanalytic, tended to focus on pathology. But one’s style of attachment (e.g., secure, avoidant, disorganized) is not written in stone after that period. It has been found that adopted children can develop healthy attachments even if one was not formed in infancy.

Recent research has been more empirical, using videotapes and observations of mother-infant interactions that can be analyzed frame-by-frame, and then coded.

Within couples, it has been suggested that one partner’s ability to attach can have healing effects on the other’s.

Assessing attachment. Questionnaires used to assess attachment have found a high correlation between a mother’s attachment style and her child’s attachment style years later. Since attachment style can have great impact on relationships, and relationships tend to influence happiness, this has tremendous clinical implications.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

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