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The Cultural Nature of AttachmentContextualizing Relationships and Development$
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Heidi Keller and Kim A. Bard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036900

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036900.001.0001

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Meaning and Methods in the Study and Assessment of Attachment

Meaning and Methods in the Study and Assessment of Attachment

(p.195) 8 Meaning and Methods in the Study and Assessment of Attachment
The Cultural Nature of Attachment

Suzanne Gaskins

Marjorie Beeghly

Kim A. Bard

Ariane Gernhardt

Cindy H. Liu

Douglas M. Teti

Ross A. Thompson

Thomas S. Weisner

Relindis D. Yovsi

The MIT Press

As originally conceived and still practiced today, attachment theory is limited in its ability to recognize and understand cross-cultural variations in human attachment systems, and it is restrictive in its inclusion of cross-species comparisons. This chapter argues that attachment must be reconceived to account for and include cross-cultural and cross-species perspectives. To provide a foundation for rethinking attachment, two universal functions of attachment systems are proposed: they provide (a) socially organized resources for the infant’s protection and psychobiological regulation and (b) a privileged entry point for social learning. Ways of understanding the nature of the cultural and ecological contexts that organize attachment systems are suggested, so that they can be recognized as culturally specific, normative behavior. Culturally valid methods for describing children’s attachment systems are also discussed. In conclusion, a wide range of research strategies are proposed to facilitate the extension and contextual validity of measures of attachment across cultures and species.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, functions of attachment, cultural understandings, everyday experiences, ecological context, multi-methods, attachment system, normative attachment

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