Phillip R. Shaver, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis
Mario Mikulincer, Professor, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel
R. Chris Fraley, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cindy Hazan, Professor, Cornell University
A celebration of Shaver’s SPSP Legacy Award for adult attachment research, beginning with Hazan and his 1987 JPSP article, “Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process,” which spawned an enormous interdisciplinary and international research literature, including scores of academic and trade books and thousands of scholarly articles and chapters. The symposium includes a brief overview of adult attachment research and suggests possibilities for future work to extend “the legacy.”
Roots and Branches of the Legacy
Attachment theory began with Bowlby’s theoretical books and Ainsworth’s studies of infant-mother attachment. Scores of studies of child-parent attachment patterns followed. In 1987, Hazan and Shaver identified the same patterns in adult relationships. Over the past 30 years, hundreds of studies have been published covering attachment processes in the brain, the personality, romantic and marital relationships, religious experiences, and large organizations.
What Has Been Learned about Benefits of Attachment Security
A dispositional or contextually activated sense of attachment security improves audition, increases cognitive flexibility (reduces task-switching cost), improves spatial navigation, increases mentalization in social cognition tasks, and deepens exploration in a dream-work task. And the contribution of security to risk-taking, personal values, and identity formation is dependent on the stability/predictability of one’s early environment.
What Has Been and Still Can Be Learned about Stability and Change in Adult Attachment
Two of the enduring questions in adult attachment research concern why some people are more secure than others in their close relationships and the factors that promote stability and change in attachment over time. The purpose of this talk is to review what has been learned—and what remains to be learned—about these foundational questions.
Extending the Legacy
Since 1987 there have been advances in understanding the diverse and profound effects of attachment security and the nature of stability and change in attachment patterns. Much is left to explore, including the place of attachment in other social and evolutionary theories, methods to link attachment at the levels of brain, mind, and behavior; new methods for testing basic tenets of the theory; and advances in understanding the formation and markers of attachment bonds.
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