Bowlby's Attachment Theory: A Literature Review

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Mikulincer, Shaver, Omri, and Nitzberg (2005) study links between attachment security, altruism, and care giving aiming to theorize altruism relative to Bowlby’s attachment theory (1969/1982) which treats altruism as part of care giving. Care giving is an inborn scheme of reactions to others needs, evolved from early emotional caregiver relations and influenced by attachment security. Networks of expectations, behaviours, and emotions related to socialisation lead to secure, anxious or avoidant attachment which predict stress, emotion regulation, and reactions to needy others. Likewise, emotional and self-regulation predict moral behaviour (Mischel & Mischel, 1976).The authors refer to studies demonstrating links between self-less volunteering, …show more content…
Similarly, evoking emotionally salient situations may lead to treating moral judgements differently (Greene, Somerville, Nystrom, Darley & Cohen, 2001). However, enhancing security consistently relates to increased altruistic behaviours, even when involving distressed acquaintances or strangers. Likewise, moral judgements are led by social values, which apply to all people, not just kin. Mikulincer et al. (2005) suggest secure attachment enables resources to be reallocated to care giving behaviour while cognitively challenging, effortful actions can be delayed by emotional or cognitive demands. Correspondingly, emotionally salient dilemmas, requiring higher processing, are deemed less appropriate than less salient situations (Greene et al., 2001). Salience increases in direct actions, such as physically causing one death to save others, versus indirect action, such as inadvertently causing one death to save others (Greene et al., 2001). Emotionally incongruent replies yield slower response times (Greene et al., 2001); suggesting cognitive and emotional processes affect judgement, akin to altruism (Fine, 2006). FMRI studies suggest dilemmas activate emotion and reason-related structures. However, extent of emotional engagement varies, analogous to effects of attachment varying dependent on style, mental or emotional demands. Reasoning and working memory appears more engaged in impersonal dilemmas. Evidence suggests that reason, or other factors such as motivations, can override both affective-laden altruistic behaviour and moral judgement. The authors conclude dispositional or experimentally enhancing secure attachment increases altruistic care giving in diverse cultures. While motivations have some effect, enhancing security may override egoistic drives, personality, or

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