Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Individual Variations in Attachment

  • Tommie Forslund
  • Pehr GranqvistEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1959-1


Individual variations in attachment denote interindividual variations in the organization or quality of attachment behavior in relation to the attachment figure, particularly observable when the attachment system is activated following external or internal cues of threat. Individual variations in attachment are typically described using two dimensions (secure/insecure, organized/disorganized) subsuming four distinct categories (secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-ambivalent/insecure-resistant, and insecure-disorganized/disoriented). Profound difficulties in forming attachments to others (i.e., reactive attachment disorder [RAD]) are typically reserved for children who have not had any consistently available caregiver (e.g., children growing up in some institutions). Variations in attachment quality are reliably predicted by the caregiver’s pattern of responding to the child’s signals (e.g., sensitivity), with characteristic forms of caregiving believed to be internalized as the child’s internal working models (IWMs, cognitive-affective representations) of self and others, particularly as regards the attachment figure’s availability for protection and support (Bowlby 1973).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gary L Brase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA