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Cornerstones of Attachment Research

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Cornerstones of Attachment Research [ free to download ] re-examines the work of key laboratories that have contributed to the study of attachment. In doing so, the book traces the development in a single scientific paradigm through parallel but separate lines of inquiry. Chapters address the work of Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main and Hesse, Sroufe and Egeland, and Shaver and Mikulincer. Cornerstones of Attachment Research utilises attention to these five research groups as a lens on wider themes and challenges faced by attachment research over the decades. The chapters draw on a complete analysis of published scholarly and popular works by each research group, as well as much unpublished material.
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... Early claims by Bowlby indicated that one primary relationship is of special importance. However, Bowlby later changed his mind in this regard (Bowlby, 1984), and indeed, it has not been the position among the vast majority of attachment researchers for decades (Duschinsky, 2020). In fact, attachment researchers generally hold that humans evolved with the expectation of a limited network of attachment relationships with particular, familiar people who can be turned to in times of need (Abraham & Feldman, 2018;van IJzendoorn, 2005). ...
... Attachment classifications are often misunderstood and misused in applied contexts, and we recognise that the community of attachment researchers, including many of us, have at times inadvertently contributed to this situation (Duschinsky, 2020). We have occasionally advocated our methods to assess attachment quality and exaggerated the implications of pertinent findings without explicitly acknowledging their constraints and limitations. ...
... Court practitioners have recognised a discrepancy between the promises that have sometimes been made about the relevance of attachment theory, and the reality of its relevance for their work (Robertson & Broadhurst, 2019). Although social workers generally regard attachment research as potentially valuable, they often lack confidence in linking attachment principles to particular cases, and worry that judges and lawyers may react sceptically to claims of expertise regarding attachment (Duschinsky, 2020;North, 2019). There is, critically, little formalised infrastructure to help practitioners match attachment considerations to court needs and to support research-practice links. ...
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La théorie et les recherches sur l’attachement sont utilisées dans de nombreux cadres d’application, y compris dans les tribunaux compétents en matière familiale [1], mais les incompréhensions sont fréquentes et sources d’erreurs lorsqu’il s’agit de les mettre en pratique. L’objectif de cet article de consensus est donc d’accroître la compréhension, de lutter contre la désinformation et d’améliorer l’utilisation de la théorie de l’attachement dans les tribunaux compétents en matière familiale sur la base des données probantes, en particulier concernant la protection de l’enfance et les décisions relatives au mode de résidence des enfants de parents séparés. L’article est divisé en deux parties. Dans la première, nous abordons les problèmes liés à l’utilisation de la théorie et de la recherche sur l’attachement dans les tribunaux compétents en matière familiale, et nous évoquons les raisons qui en sont à l’origine. Pour cela, nous examinons les applications de la théorie de l’attachement dans les tribunaux compétents en matière familiale dans le contexte actuel de la norme relative à l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant ; nous discutons des incompréhensions concernant la théorie de l’attachement et nous identifions les facteurs qui ont pu entraver sa bonne utilisation. Dans la deuxième partie, nous formulons des recommandations pour une meilleure application de la théorie et de la recherche sur l’attachement. Dans ce but, nous énonçons trois principes fondamentaux à propos de l’attachement : le besoin de l’enfant d’avoir des caregivers [2] familiers et non abusifs ; la valeur de la continuité des soins suffisamment bons ; et les avantages inhérents à la construction d’un réseau de relations d’attachement. Nous discutons également de la pertinence des outils d’évaluation de la qualité de l’attachement et des comportements de caregiving [3] pour éclairer les décisions des tribunaux compétents en matière familiale. Nous concluons que l’évaluation des comportements de soin des parents ou de toute personne en position de donneur de soins à l’enfant (caregivers) devrait être au centre des préoccupations. Bien qu’il existe un désaccord entre nous concernant l’utilisation des outils d’évaluation de la qualité de l’attachement pour éclairer les décisions relatives à la résidence et à la protection des enfants, ces outils apparaissent actuellement comme les plus appropriés pour cibler et mettre en place des programmes de soutien à la parentalité. Pour conclure, nous fournissons quelques orientations afin de guider les chercheurs dans le développement de futures collaborations au niveau interdisciplinaire. Attachment theory and research are drawn upon in many applied settings, including family courts, but misunderstandings are widespread and sometimes result in misapplications. The aim of this consensus statement is, therefore, to enhance understanding, counter misinformation, and steer family-court utilization of attachment theory in a supportive, evidence-based direction, especially with regard to child protection and child custody decision-making. The article is divided into two parts. In the first, we address problems related to the use of attachment theory and research in family courts, and discuss reasons for these problems. To this end, we examine family court applications of attachment theory in the current context of the best-interest-of-the-child standard, discuss misunderstandings regarding attachment theory, and identify factors that have hindered accurate implementation. In the second part, we provide recommendations for the application of attachment theory and research. To this end, we set out three attachment principles : the child’s need for familiar, non-abusive caregivers ; the value of continuity of good-enough care ; and the benefits of networks of attachment relationships. We also discuss the suitability of assessments of attachment quality and caregiving behavior to inform family court decision-making. We conclude that assessments of caregiver behavior should take center stage. Although there is dissensus among us regarding the use of assessments of attachment quality to inform child custody and child-protection decisions, such assessments are currently most suitable for targeting and directing supportive interventions. Finally, we provide directions to guide future interdisciplinary research collaboration.
... This was indicated by unusual speech during the discussion of loss, akin to dissociative responses to trauma in the clinical domain. Based on an initial development sample of 88 AAIs (Duschinsky, 2020), Main et al. ( /1994) developed a scale for rating individuals' unresolved states of mind with regard to experiences of loss. Main (1991) also theorized that experiences of abuse perpetrated by attachment figures may have disorganizing effects on the attachment behavioral system and therefore developed a scale for rating unresolved states of mind regarding childhood abuse that mirrored the unresolved loss scale. ...
... In the late 1980s, Main and colleagues used a semi-inductive methodology to develop a detailed coding system for assessing adults' unresolved states of mind regarding attachment. The coding system was initially developed based on a variety of linguistic indicators identified in the AAIs with 88 parents in the Berkeley Social Development Study (Duschinsky, 2020;Main et al., 1985). The manual provides coders with a large set of indicators for classifying interviews as unresolved. ...
... To explore the predictive significance of the psychometric model of unresolved states of mind, we examined its relation to infant disorganized attachment (Research Question 3), the variable through which the system for coding unresolved states of mind was originally semi-inductively created (Duschinsky, 2020). Similar to Research Question 2, we first used the indicators of unresolved loss and abuse to predict unresolved scores assigned by the human coders. ...
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Unresolved states of mind regarding experiences of loss/abuse (U/d) are identified through lapses in the monitoring of reasoning, discourse, and behavior surrounding loss/abuse in response to the Adult Attachment Interview. Although the coding system for U/d has been widely used for decades, the individual indicators of unresolved loss/abuse have not been validated independently of the development sample. This study examined the psychometric validity of U/d, using individual participant data from 1,009 parent–child dyads across 13 studies. A latent class analysis showed that subsets of commonly occurring U/d indicators could differentiate interviewees with or without unresolved loss/abuse. Predictive models suggested a psychometric model of U/d consisting of a combination of these common indicators, with disbelief and psychologically confused statements regarding loss being especially important indicators of U/d. This model weakly predicted infant disorganized attachment. Multilevel regression analysis showed no significant association between ratings of unresolved other trauma and infant disorganized attachment, over and above ratings of unresolved loss/abuse. Altogether, these findings suggest that the coding system of U/d may have been overfitted to the initial development sample. Directions for further articulation and optimization of U/d are provided.
... Posteriormente, sin embargo, Bowlby cambió su opinión al respecto (J. Bowlby, 1984, comunicación personal, citada en Harwood, 2003 y, de hecho, durante décadas esta no ha sido la posición entre la gran mayoría de quienes investigan sobre apego (Duschinsky, 2020). Estos investigadores mayoritariamente sostienen que los humanos evolucionaron con la expectativa de una reducida red de relaciones de apego con personas conocidas concretas a las que se puede recurrir en momentos de necesidad (Abraham y Feldman, 2018;van IJzendoorn, 2005). ...
... Implicaciones de las clasificaciones de estilos de apego. Las clasificaciones de estilos de apego son a menudo malinterpretadas en contextos aplicados, y reconocemos que la comunidad de investigadores del apego, incluidos muchos de nosotros, en ocasiones ha contribuido involuntariamente a que eso suceda (Duschinsky, 2020). A veces hemos defendido nuestros métodos para evaluar el estilo de apego y hemos exagerado el alcance de nuestros datos sin reconocer explícitamente sus restricciones y limitaciones. ...
... Los profesionales que trabajan en juzgados han reconocido la discrepancia entre las promesas que a veces se han hecho sobre la relevancia de la teoría del apego y la realidad de su relevancia en la práctica en su trabajo (Robertson y Broadhurst, 2019). Aunque tales profesionales generalmente consideren la investigación sobre apego como potencialmente valiosa, a menudo desconfían a la hora de trasladar los principios del apego a casos particulares, y les preocupa que jueces y abogados puedan reaccionar con escepticismo ante sus pretensiones de tener conocimientos sobre apego (Duschinsky, 2020;North, 2019). Es grave la falta de infraestructura formal para ayudar a los profesionales a adaptar las consideraciones del apego a las necesidades de los juzgados, así como para respaldar la conexión entre la investigación y la práctica. ...
Article
La teoría y la investigación sobre el apego se utilizan en muchos contextos aplicados, incluidos los juzgados de familia, pero hay malentendidos muy extendidos y que a veces dan lugar a aplicaciones erróneas. El objetivo de este documento de consenso es, por lo tanto, mejorar la comprensión, contrarrestar la desinformación y dirigir el uso de la teoría del apego por parte de los juzgados de familia en la dirección de un apoyo basado en la evidencia, especialmente en lo que respecta a la protección de niñas y niños y las decisiones sobre su custodia. El artículo se divide en dos partes. En la primera abordamos los problemas relacionados con el uso de la teoría y la investigación sobre apego en los juzgados de familia, analizando las causas de tales problemas. Para ello examinamos las aplicaciones de la teoría del apego en los juzgados de familia en el marco del concepto de interés superior de niños y niñas, analizamos los malentendidos relacionados con la teoría del apego e identificamos los factores que han obstaculizado su adecuada aplicación. En la segunda parte ofrecemos recomendaciones para la aplicación de la teoría y la investigación sobre apego. Para ello establecemos tres principios del apego: la necesidad de niñas y niños de cuidadoras y cuidadores habituales que no maltraten, el valor de la continuidad de cuidados de calidad suficientemente buena y los beneficios de las redes de relaciones de apego. También analizamos la idoneidad de las evaluaciones de los estilos de apego y del comportamiento de los cuidadores para fundamentar la toma de decisiones de los juzgados de familia. Llegamos a la conclusión de que las evaluaciones de quienes cuidan deberían ocupar un lugar central. Aunque no hay consenso entre nosotros sobre el uso de las evaluaciones del estilo de apego para fundamentar las decisiones sobre custodia y protección infantil, dichas evaluaciones son actualmente las más adecuadas para orientar y dirigir las intervenciones de apoyo. Por último, proporcionamos orientaciones para guiar la futura colaboración en la investigación interdisciplinaria.
... The ability to make use of the therapeutic relationship in TPT might partly be explained by the patients' attachment security. Bowlby developed his theory of attachment partly to explain his patients' defensiveness against intimacy and experiencing emotions (Duschinsky, 2020). Bowlby posited that individual differences in attachment security in early relationships with one's primary caregivers are carried forward and shape relationships with others, including the one with the therapist (Bowlby, 1988). ...
... Interestingly, avoidance has been recognized as a demobilizing coping strategy that aims to limit attention from caregivers and may be observed in frightening family environments (Davies & Martin, 2014). Beyond that, the coping strategies of magic and inappropriate emotional expression (i.e., inappropriate laughing in our study) that are often associated with children's disorganized attachment narratives (Duschinsky, 2020;Kerns, 2013) could also indicate those children's stressful, even toxic family environments. ...
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Maternal substance misuse affects caregiving, which influences children's coping skills. However, little is known about how children of mothers with substance misuse describe their coping in stressful situations. We studied coping and caregiver support among 29 children 4 years of age recruited from a children's health clinic serving families with maternal substance misuse in Finland. Children completed a revised Attachment Story Completion Task that we examined with qualitative content analysis. We identified children's experiences with coping in stressful situations with optimal and non-optimal caregiver support. Experiences with optimal caregiver support included (a) empathy, (b) solicitude, (c) intimacy, (d) reassurance, (e) being a role model, (f) concrete help, and (g) shared joy. Ones with non-optimal caregiver support included (a) punishment, (b) abandonment, (c) unresponsiveness, (d) physical aggression, (e) aggressive protection, and (f) parentification. Children's strategies for coping without caregiver involvement were (a) magic, (b) avoidance, (c) inappropriate laughing, (d) self-reliance, or (e) a lack of strategy. Our findings highlight that preschool children of mothers with substance misuse employ various coping strategies in stressful situations that either include caregiver support or indicate non-optimal support. Children also tended to use maladaptive coping strategies when a caregiver was not involved. Understanding children's coping with stress in families with maternal substance misuse is essential to supporting their socioemotional development and providing adequate interventions.
... Considering how Bowlby's fundamental questions have been addressed helps to clarify what we currently do and do not know. Others have also engaged in recent appraisals of attachment theory and its development, including Duschinsky (Duschinsky, 2020;Duschinsky et al., 2021), Schuengel et al. (2021), Karen (in press), and others. ...
Article
Since its inception more than 50 years ago, attachment theory has become one of the most influential viewpoints in the behavioral sciences. What have we learned during this period about its fundamental questions? In this paper, we summarize the conclusions of an inquiry into this question involving more than 75 researchers. Each responded to one of nine "fundamental questions" in attachment theory. The questions concerned what constitutes an attachment relationship, how to measure the security of attachment, the nature and functioning of internal working models, stability and change in attachment security, the legacy of early attachment relationships, attachment and culture, responses to separation and loss, how attachment-based interventions work, and how attachment theory informs systems and services for children and families. Their responses revealed important areas of theoretical consensus but also surprising diversity on key questions, and significant areas of remaining inquiry. We discuss central challenges for the future.
... confusion in attachment research due to the diversity of attachment concepts and their measurement, leading, e.g., Duschinsky et al. (2021) to propose further clarification (see also Duschinsky 2021). Bartholomew and Shaver (1998) developed a taxonomy (1998) to arrange attachment concepts, in which attachment measures represent different domains (family members, peers, or romantic relationships), methods (interviews, self-reports), and dimensionality (categories, prototype ratings, or dimensions). ...
Article
Objective: In view of the persisting conceptual confusion related to the convergence of attachment measures, we investigated several common measures within a clinical and a non-clinical sample, tested the convergence/divergence of different measures, and tried to find a dimensional model. Method: 175 patients with panic disorder/agoraphobia and 143 matched non-clinical individuals completed seven self-report attachment measures/ clinical self-reports and were interviewed by applying the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), the Adult Attachment Rating (AAR) and the Adult Attachment Projective (AAP). Results: The categorical and most dimensional attachment measures differentiated between the samples. The convergence of the categorical measures was low, whereas we found moderate to high correlations between similar scales in the dimensional self-report measures. Expectedly, the convergence of dimensional and categorical attachment measures was low. In a factorial (exploratory as well as confirmatory) model, four independent dimensions were extracted reflecting self-rated attachment anxiety and avoidance, the categories of the AAI and those of the AAP, indicating significant differences between the measures. Discussion: Measures of adult attachment are only partially convergent, underlining the need for clarification of which aspect of attachment is actually being assessed in individual clinical investigations. The question remains whether the different measures are in fact related to one construct.
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Part of the appeal of attachment language is that it feels near to our everyday experience, as terms like 'attachment', 'security' or 'disorganisation' feel readily recognisable. Yet, not one of these terms is used by academic attachment researchers in line with ordinary language. This has hindered the evidence-based use of attachment in practice, the feedback loop from practice to research and the dialogue between attachment researchers in developmental psychology and in social psychology. This paper pinpoints the difficulties arising from the existence of multiple versions of 'attachment theory' that use exactly the same terms, held by communities that assume that they are referring to the same thing and with little infrastructure to help them discover otherwise. When we talk past one another, the different communities with a stake in knowledge of attachment are obstructed from genuinely learning from one another, drawing on their respective strengths and pursuing collaborations. One factor contributing to this situation has been the use of attachment terminology with technical meanings, but often without setting out clear definitions. We here introduce a guide to attachment terminology used by the academic community, which has recently been published on the website of the Society for Emotion and Attachm ent Studies. The guide is meant for researchers, clinicians and everyone concerned with attachment to increase understanding of the technical meaning of important terminology used by researchers, and support the quality of discussions between researchers, and between researchers and clinicians and other publics.
Article
Scholarly discussion suggests prevalent, overconfident use of attachment classifications in child protection (CP) investigations but no systematic research has examined actual prevalence, nor the methods used to derive such classifications or their interpretations. We aimed to cover this gap using survey data from a nationally representative sample of Swedish CP workers (N=191). Three key findings emerged. First, the vast majority formed an opinion about young children’s attachment quality in all or most investigations. Second, most did not employ systematic assessments, and none employed well-validated attachment methods. Third, there was overconfidence in the perceived implications of attachment classifications. For example, many believed that insecure attachment is a valid indicator of insufficient care, and that disorganized attachment suggests out-of-home placement. Our findings illustrate a wide researcher-practitioner gap. This gap is presumably due to inherent difficulties translating group-based research to the level of the individual, poor dissemination of attachment theory and research, and infrastructural pressures on CP workers adversely influencing the quality of CP investigations.
Chapter
Approaching serious research in psychology is by far more rigorous than the efforts by a Catholic priest to investigate the state of affairs of the consenting beguine. The Methodology Cycle sets up very strict rules for how research can proceed—starting from its intuitive basis of curiosity. Development of educated intuition is the goal of preparation of any researcher who has the chance to introduce new knowledge to science. In this, artists and scientists are similar. The similarity ends with the guidance of the Methodology Cycle for the scientists—while artists have no such normative system for thinking. Methodology Cycle was outlined in general and the ways how one can use it—in counter-clockwise move starting from phenomena. The phenomena in general psychology—old and new—are the Person in all of its complexity of unitas multiplex. Linking William Stern’s personology with the new version of general psychology—look at the higher psychological functions—leads to the general assumption (meta-code) of all higher psychological functions being (a) systemically organized (b) dynamic and (c) meaningful. In the case of higher psychological functions we also need the assumption of intentionality for our look at the phenomena. Based on these axioms the person is to be studied as an intentional self-organizing system where the personal will to set up goals and invent means to try to reach these is central. Striving towards such personally set but societally guarded goals is a life-long personal project.
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