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The attachment behavioral system in adulthood: Activation, psychodynamics and interpersonal processes

Author(s): Mikulincer M, Shaver PR


This chapter introduces the basic concepts in Bowlby's attachment theory, covering both the normative aspects of the attachment behavioral system and individual differences. It presents an integrative model of attachment-system dynamics in adulthood. The attachment system is an inborn regulatory device that has important implications for personality and interpersonal behavior. The model describes the goals of each attachment strategy and their psychological manifestations and consequences. The chapter introduces major individual differences in the functioning of the attachment system. It presents a theoretical framework that makes sense of the cognitive operations and dynamic processes involved in the activation and functioning of the attachment system in adulthood. For this, a control-system model is proposed that integrates recent findings with earlier theoretical proposals by Bowlby. The chapter summarizes the diverse empirical studies motivated by the attachment theory and reviews a variety of unresolved conceptual and empirical issues that provide an agenda for future research.

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