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Deeper Into Attachment Theory

Cindy Hazan & Philip R. Shaver Published online: 10 Dec 2009.

To cite this article: Cindy Hazan & Philip R. Shaver (1994) Deeper Into Attachment Theory, Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, 5:1, 68-79, DOI: 10.1207/s15327965pli0501_15


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Psychological Inquiry

1994, Vol. 5, No. 1,68-79

Copyright 1994 by Lawrence ErlbaurnAssociates, Inc.


Deeper Into Attachment Theory

Cindy Hazan

Cornell University

Phillip R. Shaver

Universityof California, Davis

One of the explicit goals of our target article was to provoke the kind of integrative thinking and con- ceptual debate that can help advance the science of relationships. Surely that goal was achieved! We were challenged and inspired by what many of the commentators wrote in response to ow proposed theoretical framework. For this and for the time and thought they put into their commentaries, we thank them. They highlighted the strengths and limitations of attachment theory and our extensions of it and forced consideration of some very complex issues that must be settled if research on adult attachment is to proceed in fruitful directions. Their insights and even their criticisms made it easier for us to see just how to proceed. Most of the criticisms fall into one of two major categories. On the one hand are concerns about the validity and utility of attachment theory itself. On the other hand are concerns about our application of the theory to adult relationship phenomena. An import- ant caveat to be stated at the outset is that our article should not be seen as providing a complete explica- tion of attachment theory. Bowlby required well more than a thousand pages for his initial presenta- tion of it, whereas the present format allowed only a sketch of the key concepts. To respond to commentators' concerns about the theory necessi- tates a detailed discussion of some of its neglected features, all directly or indirectly tied to three ques- tions raised repeatedly in the commentaries:

1. If individuals form multiple attachments, and if

these attachments vary in quality, then what does it mean to refer to an individual as being of a particular attachment type?

2. Is attachment best conceptualized as a character-

istic of an individual or of a relationship between two individuals?

3. If individual differences exist, when do they be-

come stabilized andjust how stable are they?

These questions are not only of theoretical interest; they have obvious implications for operationalization and measurement and, therefore, are relevant to commentators' concerns about our extensions and ap- plicationsof the theory. For example,what is the nature and form of attachment behavior in adulthood,and how should individual differences be conceptualized and measured? Last, several questions posed by the com- mentators pertain specifically to the study of adult relationships. Is an integrated theory of close relation- ships desirable or possible? Does attachment theory provide an adequate framework for such an integra- tion? We see these as the major questions, to which we respond in turn.

Theoretical Issues

Are Attachments Singularor Multiple?

Attachment researchers agree that, given the oppor- tunity, all normal human infants become attached to their primary caregiver, typically within the first 8 months of life. Whether secondaryattachmentsto other people are formed simultaneously or only after a pri- mary attachmenthasbeen establishedis open to debate, but there is no doubt that infants and children do form multiple attachments.Bonds that satisfy the criteria for being attachments-that is, that include proximity maintenance and safe-haven and secure-base behav- iorsare commonly developed with other adults as well as with older siblings. But, are these relationships of equal importance to the attached infant or child? Empirical evidence strongly suggests not. Although a plurality of attachmentfigures is the norm, these figures arenot treatedequivalently.Infantsshowclear discrim- ination and consistent preferences (Colin, 1985,1987; Cummings, 1980; Farran & Ramey, 1977). If several caregiversare available,infantsreliablyseek and main- tain proximity to one, especially if tired or ill (Ains-

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worth, 1967,1982). This is the case even in polymatric settings. Infants exhibit more intense protest on being left by the primary attachment figure as compared to others (Schaffer & Emerson, 1964). In unfamiliar set- tings, they are more reassured by the presence of the primary figure than by others (Ricciuti, 1974; Shill, Solyom, & Biven, 1984).Bowlby (196911982)referred to this tendency of a child to form a special attachment to one figure as monotropy. Multiple attachments are hypothesized to be hier- archically arranged. At the top of this hierarchy is the primary attachment figure. For good or ill, this figure is usually the infant's mother. Although we share Lewis's concerns regarding attachment researchers' focus on the mother, we must stress that there is nothing in attachment theory requiring that mother be the primary attachment figure. Infants form a primary attachment to the person who most consis- tently provides care and responds to their distress signals. Theoretically, this could be almost anyone in the infant's environment. In actuality, it tends to be the mother, but there are exceptions. In one inves- tigation, 24% of the studied infants directed more or stronger attachment behavior to their fathers than to their mothers (Colin, 1987). In almost every case, these special fathers had spent substantial time with their infants and had participated actively in their routine care. What might be seen as a "dangerously narrow" focus on mothers, then, is more a result of societal organization than of attachment theory. Over the course of development, many changes may occur in the content and structure of an individual's attachment hierarchy. According to Bowlby, parental figures tend to be permanent members of the hierarchy, but their positions naturally change as a child matures. Others are added to or dropped from the hierarchy. Eventually, with the formation of a pair bond in adult- hood, a peer-usually a sexual partner-assumes the position of primary attachment figure and ascends to the top of the hierarchy. In an interview study of more than 100 adults---nearly all with extensive social net- works-80% of subjects who had been involved in a romanticrelationship for at least 2 years were primarily attached to their partners (Hazan, 1992). Most of the rest were still primarily attached to a parent. This is not to say that their attachment needs were not distributed across multiple relationship figures. In fact, for the majority, they were. All could name other people who were important sources of comfort and support. How- ever, the overwhelmingmajority reported clear prefer- ences for a single other. That Bowlby, alongwith other attachment theorists and researchers, frequently re- ferred to the attachment figure should not be taken to mean the only attachmentfigure, but rather theprimary one. Subsidiary attachment figures are sought only if

the primary attachment figure is either unavailable or unable to provide sufficient reassurance. As Crowell and Waters put it, "any port will do in a storm." We agree with Lewis that "adults have needs other than attachment and security." And, we might add, children have other needs too. Bowlby clearly stated that there exist a multiplicity of needs for which multi- ple social relationships are required. His postulation of distinct behavioral systems is an explicit acknowledg- ment of this fact (e.g., he distinguishesattachmentfrom affiliation). Lewis makes reference to "the idea that these needs are all to be satisfied by a single significant other in our adult life." Neither we nor Bowlby claimed that the primary attachmentfigure is expectedto satisfy all needs. In fact, the attachment figure may not even satisfy needs for security, despite being preferred over other sources. Some needs are best satisfied through social relationships, and these are regulated by what H. F. Harlow and M. K. Harlow (1965) called the affective systems. R. S. Weiss (1974) specified a total of six relational provisions and corresponding needs, not all of which are likely to be handled by any single person or relationship. In all such formulations, including Bowlby's, attachment is just one of many needs. The needs and the systems that regulate them, how- ever, may not be as independent as Lewis implies. Indeed, in infants, activation of the attachment system overrides the activation of systems such as affilitation and exploration (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; H. F. Harlow, 1961). This suggests that needs may be better conceptualizedas hierarchically ordered, rather than as columns in the kind of person x needs matrix proposed by Lewis. Some needs are hypothe- sized to be naturally directed toward the same individ- ual--as may be the case with security and sexual needs in adulthood. Regardless of their arrangement, there is no doubt that the needs and their potential satisfiers are multiple. That attachment theory deals primarily with attachment-relatedneeds might be judged a limitation. In our view, however, this focus makes it ideally suited for the study of close relationships. The closest of close relationships are those between parents and children and between adult lovers. In both, the provision of security and comfort are of central importance.

Are AttachmentPatterns Properties of Individuals or of Relationships?

According to Lewis, if we reject the notion of singu- larity(i.e., that one relationshipsatisfiesall needs), then "attachment cannot be a trait." Duck and the Hendricks express similar opinions. We do reject the notion of singularity but still argue that attachment patterns (types or styles) can be and are trait-like. And, in

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response to Kobak, we argue that attachment patterns, in addition to characterizing individuals, are also rela- tionship constructs. How can this be? Sroufe and Flee- son (1986) proposed a model of relationships that integratesthese two aspectsof attachment.Considerthe case in which an infant develops an avoidant attach- ment to its primary caregiver. Avoidant, in this case, describes the quality of the relationship between the two. However, some key features of the relationship and associated experiences eventually come to be rep- resented in the mind of, and habitually woven into the behaviorof, the infant. The mentalrepresentationis one of an avoidant attachment relationship in which the infant's bids for closeness andcomfort have been fairly consistently rebuffed by the caregiver. The representa- tion, which resides in the infant, is then carriedforward into new relationships in which it may influence per- ceptions, feelings, and behaviors. In other words, the avoidant attachment has become a characteristicof the individual infant, even though it began as a feature of a dyadic relationship. How subsequent relationships unfold-whether they too become avoidant-will be a joint function of the biases of the child (perhaps to expect rejection and to avoid contact) and the behavior of new relationship partners. Experiences in subse- quent relationships will either confirm the child's model of relationships and thereby reinforce avoidant expectationsand tendenciesor disconfirmthe preexist- ing model and perhaps cause a revision of the model. The resultant reinforced or revised model will then be carried into subsequent relationships, in which it may be further elaborated, reinforce4 or modified. At any point in the individual's development, it would be possible to classify the quality of a current attachment relationship and also the individual's representational biases. Bowlby (1988) presented attachment theory as

a theory of personality

tionships. To ask whether attachment is a trait or a relationship construct is to imply a false disjunction. Of the many attachments that an individual forms, which are the most influential in the construction of a core internalworking model of relationship? Research indicates that the relationship with the primary attach- ment figure has the greatest and most lasting impact on later development and functioning. In a study of attach- ment among 6-year-olds, for example, Main, Kaplan, and Cassidy (1985) found that the attachmentrelatian- ship established by a child during infancy with his or her mother (who was assumed to be the primary attach- ment figure) influenced the child's representational models of self and others more than attachment to the father did. Consistent with these findings, Bowlby (1980) reported that loss of the mother before age 11 predicts much greater vulnerability to depression than does loss of the father. Feeney and Noller (1990) found

development within close rela-

that avoidant adolescentswere more likely than secure or ambivalent adolescents to report childhood separa- tionsfrom their mothers, but not their fathers. Although these results do not provide conclusive evidence, they strongly suggest that the traitlike aspects of attachment develop mainly out of relationships with primary at- tachment figures.

When Do Attachment Types Become Stable,and How Stable Are They?

One of the most common misconceptions about at- tachment theory is that it predicts 100% stability from infancy to adulthood. In its most simplistic form, "the way the infant attaches at 1 year of age mostly deter- mines the way the adult attaches at age 21" (Hendricks

To our knowledge, Bowlby never made

such a claim; we have never made such a claim, and any responsible researcher apprised of the evidence would not make such a claim either. Such claims serve

as a convenient"straw person" for criticswho presume

that the theory predicts perfect

differences and, because there is abundant evidence that continuity is not perfect, conclude that the theory must be wrong. Bowlby (1973) explicitly stated, in a passage we have quoted frequently in our writings, that working models of attachment are gradually con- structed out of experiences throughout infancy, child- hood, and adolescence. Only then do they become relatively resistant to, but still not impervious to, change. Our view is that they are sufficiently stable to warrant considerationand study. Stabilityof attachmentclassificationsduring infancy depends, not surprisingly,on the stabilityof the infant's environment. In stable environments, rates of stability overa 6-monthperiodhave ranged from81%(Connell, 1976) to 96% (Waters, 1978). In unstable environ- ments, stability rates tend to be lower, as would be expected if they depend largely on the quality of inter- actions with caregivers (and not, incidentally, if they depend primarily on innate temperament). Even in an unstable environment, however, Egeland and Farber (1984) found 60% stability in attachment classifica- tions. In one longitudinal study, subjects were classi- fied in infancy and then reassessed at age 6; high stability rateswere found(Main etal,, 1985).The study was replicated in Germany, with similar results (Wart- ner, 1986). In another longitudinal investigation, sig- nificant (although far from perfect) continuity was foundover the 10-yearperiod followingclassifications at 12months (Elicker, Englund, & Sroufe, 1992). All thesestudieswere conductedwith infant or child subjects. If Bowlby was correct in his view that models do not become stable until adolescence,studies exam-

continuity of individual

& Hendricks).

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ining stability from adolescence through adulthood might provide more accurate estimates. More work is

clearly needed before any firm conclusions about sta- bility can be drawn, and such work is underway. The

Hendricks say that "it would

require the kind of longitudinal studies necessary to assess attachment over the developmental span from infancy to adulthood." Actually, Alan Sroufe and his colleagues have already followed a group of subjects from infancy to adolescence,and Stuart Hauser and his collaborators have followed a group of adolescentsinto early adulthood Thus, the kind of longitudinal data needed to answer questions about stability and change across the life course will soon be available. For now, we can say that there is evidenceforboth continuityand change, and researchers have begun to identify the conditions under which each outcome is most likely. Estimating stability of attachment styles in adult- hood is rendered more difficult by a lack of consensus about how such styles should be measured. (More on this later.) But it is possible to speculate about the underlying mechanisms that might be expected to pro- mote stability. In an elegant and detailed account of personality across the life course, Caspi and Bem (1990) operated on the assumption that both continuity and change in traits occur as a result of person-envi- ronment interactions. Caspi and Bem identified three interaction types that appear to be particularly import- ant. Reactive interaction refers to the well-documented finding that mental representationsof the self and oth- ers determine in large part what people select to attend to and how they interpret it. Adults seem to be particu- larlyattentive to informationthat confirmstheir expec- tations about the world and matches their views of themselves (Markus, 1977). Individuals with avoidant working models who, by definition, believe that others are unreliable providers of support should be particu- larly attentive to information indicative of a lack of trustworthiness. When such informationis ambiguous, as socialinformationtends tobe, an avoidantbias could easily lead to a conclusion that is expectationconfirm- ing. In an anxiety-provoking experimental setting, avoidantfemales were less likely than secure or ambiv- alent females to seek emotional support from their partners (Simpson, Rholes, & Nelligan, 1992). Evoca- tive interaction refers to the finding that individuals evoke different responses from their environments. In the Simpsonet al. (1992) experiment,avoidantsubjects did not communicate their anxiety or seek support. As a consequence, they evoked less supportive behavior from their partners, which could then be interpretedas confirming expectations of nonsupport. As children mature and social networksare extended beyond the family to the peer group, there is ample opportunityforproactive interactionsin which individ-

be asking too much to

uals select and sometimes create their own environ- ments. Kirkpatrick and Davis (in press) suggested that partnersare either chosenor retained for their tendency to confirm attachment models. The data are equally compatiblewith the interpretationthat model-confirm- ing styles emerged within the context of the relation- ships, rather than operating as factors in partner selection. However, Caspi and Herbener's (1990) re- sults indicate that assortative mating of spouses on personality characteristicspromotes personality conti- nuity and that the continuity is not attributable to pre- existing stability tendencies. Swann, Hixon, and De La Ronde's (1992) study, cited in our target article, pro- vides further evidence that partners who confirm self- models, even if negative, are preferred over partners whose feedback does not fulfill expectations. Given Bowlby's original formulationof attachment theory and the empirical evidence that has accrued in its support, it wouldbe inaccurateto say that singularity of attachment relationships is either predicted or ex- pected. Humans normallybecame attached to multiple individuals and even to inanimate objects. However, theseattachmentsareequivalentneitherin their import- ance nor in their effects on developmental outcomes. We accept that Lewis is attached to his pipe, but we suspect that, in his hierarchy of attachments, the pipe ranks somewhere below his wife and children. When attachmentresearchersspeak of an individual's attach- ment type, they refer to a mental representation--corn- plete with experience-based beliefs, expectations, emotions, and action tendencies-that is probably in- fluenced, to some degree, by all importantrelationships the individual has been involved in, but especially by attachment relationships that can be called primary. Our views of the social world are no doubt multiply determined, but the experiences we have with the per- son onwhom we most depend for comfort and security will form the foundation of our model of the world as a place in which comfort and security can be reliably counted on or not. To the degree that this model is repeatedly confirmedthrough theprocess of interaction with the environment, it should be stable. Disconfirm- ing experiences, however, can occur and can produce change(Hazan& Hutt, 1991). Behavior in all domains, including close relationships, is assumed to be guided by dispositional factors (e.g., attachment style) and contextualfactors(e.g., the actual behavior of the part- ner). As with the singularity of attachments, perfect stability is neither predicted nor expected. It is an unfair characterization of attachment theory to say that it assumes either, On the basis of empirical evidence and logicalargument, it would be all too easy to dismissany theory that did. This brings us to two additional and closely related questions: Is primary caregiver responsiveness the

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most influential determinant of mental models of at- tachment? If so, how responsive does a caregiver need to be in order for an infant to construct a secure model? The Hendricks"wonder whetheranyparent approaches 100% consistency in either response or nonresponse." Duck reminds us of how "extremely wearing" infants can be and goes on to ask on whose perceptions- parents' or infant's--an attachmentmodel is based. On the infant's, of course. The mental representation that an individual constructs is necessarily based on that individual's perceptions of his or her own experiences. The perceptions may be similar to those of the social partner or depart dramatically from them. Bowlby (1973) argued that the models would be "tolerably acccurate reflections of the experiences those individ- uals have actually had" @. 235), and so far there is no reason to doubt this. The question of how responsive a caregiver needs to be for his or her infant to learn to expect respon- siveness is, of course, an empirical question. Never- theless, for the very reasons Duck and the Hendricks suggest, it is unlikely that 100% responsiveness is required. If perfect consistency were necessary, we doubt that the majority of infants would develop secure attachments to their caregivers, as scores of studies, beginning with Ainsworth's, indicate they do. We also suspect that the absolute frequency of response is less important that the context in which the response occurs or fails to occur. With full recognition of the limitations of analo- gies, we offer one here. Imagine you are the owner of a car that, on most days, starts when you turn the key and delivers you to your destination without incident. Imagine that this same car, on occasion, has broken down. Both the frequency of breakdown and the circumstances under which breakdown occurs can be expected to influence your evaluation of the car as reliable or unreliable. If, for example, it breaks down only once-but while you are racing to the airport on your way to deliver an invited address- you might decide that the car is unreliable. However, if it breaks down more than once-but never under pressing circumstances-you might be better able to maintain the view that it is reliable. If it breaks down often or most of the time, you would consider it generally unreliable. Although acknowledging that models of our attachment figures differ in important ways from models of our cars, both are cognitive representations that develop from concrete experi- ences. Models of attachment figures as responsive, unresponsive, or unpredictable are assumed to be based on the frequency of contingent tesponding as well as on the context in which a response is desired. In a very careful and detailed analysis of mother-in- fant interactions, Isabella, Belsky, and von Eye

(1989) found strong evidence for the importance of contingent responding. What matters most in the long term is not only how a caregiver responds, but under what circumstances. Most mothers interact frequently and positively with their infants, but what seems to determineinfants' internal working models is whether and how the caregiver responds to distress. Does anyone who has ever come into contact with human infants really believe that the way they are treated by the people on whom they are utterly depen- dent for survival has no implications for their subse- quent development or view of the world?

Parenting or Temperament?

How important is caregiver responsiveness com- pared to other factors, such as temperament?The Hen- dricks state that "temperament of the infant does make some difference," implying that this fact somehow negates the caregiver-responsiveness hypothesis. Of course temperament matters; it is likely to have effects that are both direct and indirect. Anything that influ- ences the quality of the caregiver's response, as infant temperament surely does, can be expected to influence the quality of the attachment between them. Despite good evidence for differences among newborns on temperament dimensions such as irritability, sociabil- ity, and threshold for fear, security of attachment can- not (yet) be reliably predicted from such differences. In contrast, it can be predicted from caregiver behavior. Belsky and Rovine (1987) proposed a model of how temperament influences attachment classification. Basedon their ownandothers' data, Belskyand Rovine concluded that, although temperament is somewhat predictive of the pattern of security or insecurity (i.e., the secure or insecure subtype) exhibited by an infant, it is not predictive of whether the attachment will be secure or insecure. The Fox, Kimmerly, and Schafer (1991) meta-analysis cited by the Hendricks also showed that security is not predictable from tempera- ment variables. In a dramatic demonstration of the contribution of caregiver behavior to attachment clas- sification when temperament is controlled, van den Boom (1990) identified 100 babies who had been la- beled temperamentally difficultand randomly assigned them to an experimental or control group. When the infants were 6 to 9 months old, mothers in the experi- mental group received three individualized training sessions in sensitive responding. At 12months, 68%of the infants whose mothers had been trained to be re- sponsive were securely attached, compared with only 28% of those in the control group. We think that infants would be better served if re- searchers, ratherthan resisting theory andevidencethat

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underscore the importance of caregiver behavior for social and personality development, would focus on the factorsthat facilitateand fosteroptimalcare. More than one such factor has alreadybeen identified-for exam- ple, sensitivity training (van den Boom, 1990), close bodily contact (Anisfeld, Casper, Nozyce, & Cuming- ham, 1990; Main, 1990), and social support for car- egivers (Crockenberg, 1981). The Hendricks outline seven assumptions one is "asked to accept" before accepting attachment theory. They summarize these assumptions by saying that "there is continuity of attachment patterns and that adult modes of attaching and loving are largely deter- mined by the type and degree of maternal responsive- ness in infancy." They go on to state that, if attachment theory is to work as a framework for the study of adult relationships, "these assumptions must hold true." As should be clear by now, their assumptionsare based on a mistaken conception of attachment theory and so, of course, need not hold true. Perhaps the many inaccura- cies in the Hendricks' analysis are due to their nearly total reliance on a 10-year-old, secondary account of the theory--a thought-provoking but now outdated summary and critique by Camps, Barrett, Lamb, Goldsmith, and Stenberg (1983). The tone of the Hendricks' commentary is curious from start to finish. They say they "wanted to believe in attachment the- ory." Why would two researchersworking on their own very different approach to adult love "want" to "believe in" a rival theory? Belief in strikes us as an odd phrase in this context in any case. Why would a scientist want to "believe in" or accept any theory on blind faith? The Hendricks say the invitation to comment on our article finally prompted them to investigate attachment the- ory and that, when they did, "previously unknown controversies" were made apparent. The controver- sies to which they refer were discussed in some detail in our first article on the topic (Hazan & Shaver, 1987); in that article, we cited the Camps et al. (1983) critique on which the Hendricks base the bulk of their comments. More recent research compendi- ums (e.g., Belsky & Nezworski, 1988; Greenberg, Cicchetti, & Cummings, 1990; Parkes, Stevenson- Hinde, & Marris, 1991) have indicated that many of the so-called controversiesof a decade ago have been empirically addressed, and many of the criticisms have been reformulated or laid to rest.

Research Issues

The theoretical and substantive issues discussed so far have obvious and important implications for the measurement of adult attachment. Several commentar- ies focus on measurement-related issues (e.g.,

Bartholomew, Noller & Feeney) or mention measure- ment as a concern (e.g., Crowell & Waters, Duck, Stevenson-Hinde, R. S. Weiss). How should individual differences be conceptualized? How should they be measured? How do the various existing measures relate to one another? These important questions must be satisfactorily answered if the field of adult attachment research is to make further contributions to our under- standing of close relationships. Forgoodreasons,socialscientistsare rarely satisfied with the quality of their measures, and we are not exceptions. When we composed our simple three-cate-

gory measure in 1985,we thought of it as a first attempt to capture what appeared to be distinct patterns of individual differences that kept cropping up in studies

relationshipphenomena. We started with Ainsworth

et al.'s (1978) three infant categories, not because we believed that adult differences were direct results of relationshipexperiencesin infancy and not because we thought that adult patterns would necessarily be the same as those identified in studies of infants, but be- cause we had to start somewhere and because it seemed possible to translate Ainsworth's categories into adult language. The types also had intuitive appeal and, based on an examination of the literature on relation- ships, seemed to capture many of the reported differ- ences in the way adults think, feel, and behave in close relationships. The volume of informative studies and the coherenceof results from investigations around the world (reviewed by Shaver & Hazan, 1993) indicate that our measure was a good first step. When the measure was first published (Hazan & Shaver, 1987), and we began to receive requests for copies, we responded with encouragement to modify, expand, and test it. Whenever we gave talks about our work, we urged researchers to use attachment theory and not our measure as their starting point. From the outset, we expressed concern that researchers would accept our simple self-report measure of attachment style as the defining or only measure of the construct. For these reasons, we are puzzled by Noller and Feeney's claims that the adoption of our model by some


researchers has "hampered attempts to look at crucial issues" and "[created] a research environment marked by a reluctance to question and explore the basic tenets of the model." Noller and Feeney go on to say that it is now "crucial for researchersto start from basic theoret- ical principles rather than from the perspective of a given typology." We couldn't agree more. This is ex- actly what we have encouraged all along, and we have not noticed the "reluctance" to which Noller and Feeney refer. For example, Bartholomew (1990) ex- panded our typology to four categories. Callins and Read (1990) and Simpson (1990) broke the measure into parts, added new pieces to incorporate more of

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the theory, and created factor-based dimensionalmea- sures. If there is any reluctance to deconstruct, probe, and reconstruct our model and measure, we haven't noticed it.


We agree with Noller and Feeney that better mea- sures and methods are needed in the area of adult attachment, and we agree with Bartholomew's point that theory and measurement are inextricably linked. As noted in the target article, debates about measure- ment have taken many forms, including a focus on whether individual differencesare best conceptualized in terms of dimensions or types. The dimensional ap- proach (e.g., Feeney, Noller, & Callan, in press; Kobak, Cole, Ferenz-Gillies, & Fleming, 1993) seems most promising for several reasons. For one, it potentially makes measurementmore precise. Few human person- ality differences are truly categorical (although think- ing in terms of categories may be useful when theorizing and generating dynamic hypotheses). For another, a dimensional approach facilitates compari- sons between measures and combinationsof measures (through methods such as factor analysis). As Noller and Feeney suggest, if there are several dimensions to be considered, it is possible to use various kinds of profile analysis, which should be more precise than our three-categoryscheme.In addition,dimensionalscores may reveal small changes in attachment that might be either masked or exaggerated by categorical measures. Fortunately, it is always possible to recapture types from dimensions if one desires qualitative categories for some reason. The trick, of course, is to figure out which dimen- sions to include. This phase of measurement develop- ment should, in our opinion, be theory driven. It would be a mistake to think that the "right" number of types or dimensions can be discovered through empirical means alone. We agree with Noller and Feeney that factor analysiscan be helpful in resolvingsome of these substantive issues, but it is important to remember, as always, that factors reflect the variables that go into an analysis.Factor analysiscannottell us whether the most important aspects of attachment have been includedor left out. If the measures of adult attachment are to be used to validate and test Bowlby's theory, at least one essential dimension must be include~onfidence in the availability and responsiveness of attachment figures. As Bartholomewnotes, current models of individual differences in adult attachment are based on very dif- ferent conceptual analyses and underlying dimensions. Our model (Hazan & Shaver, 1987)is based on percep-

tions of attachment figures' responsiveness; Sperling's model is based on the interaction of affil- iation and aggression (Sperling & Berman, 1991); Bartholomew's model is based on models of self and other (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991); and Main's model (e.g., Main et al., 1985) is based in part on patterns of defensiveness revealed in face-to-face talk. How do we decide which, if any, of these is correct? What does correct mean? The ideal, we think, is to derive relevant dimensions from the theory while remaining open to empirically based changes in the theory. A separate but related issue concerns the notion of types. AlthoughAinsworth et al. (1978) identifiedthree major patterns of attachment,they also delineatedeight subtypes.Distinguishingbetween subtypes is not sim- ply a statisticalproblem but also a conceptualone. Are


ant categoriesreally two separate types or simply sub- types of a more general avoidantpattern? So-calledA1 infants in Ainsworth's classification scheme cry less than A2 infants and exhibit less conflict, but both are classified as avoidant because both avoid their car- egiver during Strange Situation reunion episodes. Adult fearful avoidants are more conscious of their fears of intimacy (or at least are more willing to express such fears) than are dismissing avoidants, but the out- come is often the same-avoidance of intimacy. Theo- retically, it should be possible to identify different subtypes of ambivalence as well; Ainsworth noticed two such subtypes,one more passive than the other. At the adult level, it is not difficult to imagine different strategies for keeping others close. One such strategy might be to master the art of caregiving and try to make oneself an indispensable source of support. Another might be to make oneself appearvulnerableand in need of constant care. Bowlby (1979) labeled these compul- sive caregiving and compulsive careseeking, respec- tively. There may be other ways for a person who fears abandonment to reduce the chances of its happening. Noller and Feeney propose that there may be multiple ways of expressinginsecurity but only oneway of being secure. Even among infants, however, security takes at leastfourreliably codedforms(Ainsworth et al., 1978), varying in terms of proximity seeking, contact mainte- nance, crying, and strength of greeting on reunion. It would be surprising if adults were any less variable. Stevenson-Hinde also comments on the issue of measurement, but she is interested primarily in behav- ioral indicators. (Crowell & Waters and R. S. Weiss also raise this issue.) Stevenson-Hinde says that, to her knowledge, "there are no observational studies of at- tachmentbehavior and a correspondingattachmentbe- haviorsystem in adults, as there are in infancyand early childhood." We think several studies qualify as inves-

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tigationsof attachmentbehavior in adults. Forexample, Mikulincer and Nachshon's (1991) studies of self-dis- closure, Simpson et al.'s (1992) investigation of sup port seeking in an anxiety-provoking situation, and Kobak and Hazan's (1991) study of caregiving and joint problem-solving in marital couples all count as observational studies of adult attachment. Moreover,

& Shaver, 1992) that were not necessarily inspired by

and Shaver(in press). Belsky and Cassidy's hypothesis that avoidant adults might express relatively little dis- tress at the terminationof a romantic relationship was confirmed by Simpson (1990). Their predictions about the role of attachment differences in the workplace are consistent with the results of a study we conducted on the links between love and work (Hazan & Shaver,

there are many studies of couple communication and


interaction (reviewedby R. L. Weiss & Heyman, 1990) and reactions to loss of a partner (reviewed by Hazan

attachmenttheory but are nevertheless clearly relevant

We agree with Belsky and Cassidy's claim than an individual-differences framework can do as much to advancethe theory and its applicationto adult relation- ships as the normative framework we proposed in our


it. Bowlby constructed his theory on the foundation

target article. Our deliberate emphasis on the norma-


a creative and integrative review of studies already

tive aspects of the theory was intended to redress

lodged in the literature, most of which were not in- formed by his ideas. Surely the same thing can and should be done with respect to adolescent and adult attachment. However, it is important to stress that, when study- ing adolescents and adults, we need not limit our- selves to behavior. Main et al. (1985) noted that the attachment system begins to include cognitive and affective "representations" at least by age 6. The theory itself is as much about the role of internal working models as it is about observable behavior (Bretherton, 1990). Bowlby acknowledged the im- portance of representations by including, in his the- oretical integration, studies of depression and grief based on interviews and questionnaires. We all share Stevenson-Hinde's wish for "such golden tools [as the Strange Situation] in adulthood." We think the Simpson et al. (1992) paradigm is a good

what we see as a dangerous imbalance in adult at- tachment research. Personality and social psycholo- gists who follow up our work tend to adopt our individual-differences measure or one of the several adaptations of it and then proceed to conduct re- search without studying the theory very extensively. (Noller & Feeney make this point.) We worried that this exclusive focus on individual differences meant that people were failing to see the universal aspects of the theory and were thinking of it strictly as a theory of types. (Lewis goes so far as to say that, if it's not a theory of types, then it's not a very compel- ling theory--a position with which we disagree.) Crowell and Waters also build on our proposed framework by filling in some of the gaps we left open, and, like Belsky and Cassidy, they specify interesting hypotheses that can be tested. As Crowell and Waters rightly note, our description of the phases in our model

first step in this direction. However, we do not wish for

of attachmentformation and transfer were too brief and


single silver bullet. In fact, the infant attachment

lackingin detail. We appreciatetheir insightfulanalysis

research area has been frequently criticized for over- reliance on a single assessment procedure. It seems likely that the adult attachment research area will es- capethiscriticism.Adult attachmentincludesthoughts,

and their compelling argument about why-in the transfer of primary attachments from parents to peers and in the formation of reciprocal peer attachments in adulthood-the safe-haven functionshouldprecedethe

feelings, and behaviors--all of which can and should be measured.

secure-basefunction. One of us (Hazan) recently com- pleted a study of children, adolescents, and adults that

Fellow Travelers

supports this argument. Crowell and Waters (along with Simpson) question our separation of caregiving and attachment. We think

Several commentators (e.g., Belsky & Cassidy, Crowell & Waters, Kobak, R. S. Weiss) offer very useful suggestions for how to proceed with the exten- sion of attachment theory to the study of adult relation- ships. Belsky and Cassidy recast our core questions in terms of individual differences and thereby pose some intriguing questions and put forward some promising hypotheses. There are already data relevant to some of these. For instance, the speculation that avoidant indi- viduals would be most satisfied with a partner who demands little care was tested and supported by Kunce

the separation of these two behavioral systems is justi- fiedboth logicallyandempirically. Infantsform attach- ments long before they become eapable of serving as attachmentfigures, so the systems emerge at different points in development. Adult partners may intermingle attachment and caregiving behaviors, whereas typi- cally only the caregiving system is active In relation to infants and children. It is quite plausible that the two systemsco-evolvedand that, inpair-bond relatiomhips (to use Simpson's favored term), they are likely to be intimately interconnected As Stevenson-Hindestates, "To the extent that caregiving involves reaching out-

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ward, it is likely that a caregivingbehavior systemalso would be deactivated by arousal of an attachment be-

havior system." If she is right (and we think she is), the ability of one system to preempt the other can be taken as strong support for conceptualizing them as separate (but interrelated) systems. Crowell and Waters note that the intensity of grief and mourning reactions is similar for caregivers who have lost a child andchildrenwho havelost a caregiver. Althoughwe call both reactionsgrieving, the cognitive and emotional action-tendencycomponentsare proba- bly not entirely the same. A person who is attached experiences fear and a loss of security, whereas a care- giver experiences a sense of deep sadness and an urge to continue providing care to the lost loved one. Adults who lose a partner to whom they were attachedand for whom they also provided care may experience grief as

a mixture of these emotions. This is a good topic for future research.

R. S. Weiss makes additional suggestions about is-

sues deserving further study and, in so doing, exhibits

the creativity that has markedhisown use of attachment

theory in the study of loss and loneliness. He says that "adults rarely see their spouses as awesomelysuperior in the same way [that children view their caregivers]." This is probably true, but it isn't clear that an adult has to see his or her partner as "awesomely superior," just "stronger and wiser" in the moment of need. If adults didnot dependstronglyon theirpartnersforsafety(safe haven) and emotional support, they presumably would not grieve their loss so deeply. The partner is as much an "irreplaceable figure" as the caregiver in the eyes of the individual who is attached. A partner is likely to understand one's needs and be able to help and comfort one in ways that no other person can. A partner is "superior" in at least this important way.

R. S. Weiss says that children's security depends on

fairly frequent reassurance of the attentive presence of

their attachment figure but that, in pair-bonds, it is "much more muted." Nevertheless, adults do need at- tention and reassurance from their partners. Most want

to talk about their day, like to be hugged or touched on

a regular basis, and maintain regular contact by tele-

phone or mail during separations. Even in adulthood, frequent, prolonged, or unexpected separations from one" primary attachment figure tend to be distressing (Vormbrock, 1993).

Additional Criticisms

Some commentators note our injudicious uses of the terms behavioral system and function (Stevenson- Hinde), need (R. S. Weiss), andfelt security (Kobak). We aren't sure we completely agree with every recom- mendation, but we appreciate the clarifications.Others


(e.g., Duck, Levinger) criticize us for leaving out top-

ics, issues, and theories that they believe are essential ingredients of any comprehensive framework for re- searchon close relationships. For example, Duck notes that we left out sociology and communication theories and failed to specify the level of the theory we are proposing. That is partly because we are both psychol- ogists, but alsobecause attachmenttheory is not limited to a single level. Marris (1991), a sociologist who has long worked within a broad attachment framework, wrote that "attachment theory powerfully links the social and psychological aspects of human behavior. John Bowlby's contribution will, I believe, be seen to

be as central to the development of

been to psychology" @. 77). As for communication, some of the most interesting aspects of the Adult At- tachment Interview have to do with coding dimensions labeled coherence of discourse and coherence of mind. We think Main's discovery that coherence of mind, as reflected in coherent discourse, is a major hallmark of secure attachment is one of the most important contri- butions to attachment theory since Ainsworth's pio- neeringstudies. Attachment theory, as it has evolved in response to solid empirical evidence, is a communica- tion theory (as well as an ethologicaltheory, a psycho- logical theory, a sociological theory, etc.)-perhaps one of the most important communication theories

around (Bretherton, 1990).Finally, Duck asks whether attachment theory can explain the "dark side" of rela- tionships. Two of the volumes in Bowlby's attachment trilogy deal in detail with anxiety, depression, and anger. Levinger (along with Noller & Feeney) expresses doubts that something as complex as human relation- ships can ever be explained by a single theoretical framework. We are unsure but cautiously optimistic. Rather than shy away from theorizing about the com- plexities of close relationships, we work toward the creation of more comprehensiveand complex theories. By pointing out some of the limitations of attachment theory and drawing attention to other theories that might fill some of the gaps, Levinger has helped us see what a sufficientlycomplex theory might look like.

sociology as it has

Do We Need a Comprehensive Theory of Close Relationships?

Our argument that the field of close relationships is in need of a comprehensive theory was based more on intuition and experience with the field than on careful analysis. Peterson's survey of the field's premierjour- nal provides empirical support for our position. His review of the Journal of Personality and Social Psy- chology turned up 22 of 65 articles (33.8% of the total) "[offering] relatively straightforward empirical de-

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scription but no clear implications for general theory." This is compatible with our point that there are data lying around detached from theory. Ten of the 65 studies(another 15.3%) were"intended toclarify major relational concepts." Fine, but most of those articles were divorced ftom a comprehensive theory of rela- tionships. For example, Fehr7s(1988) methodologi- cally and descriptively useful research on everyday conceptions of love (cited by Peterson) was largely guided by Rosch's (1978) theory of the nature of cog- nitive categories, not by a theory of love itself. This means that at least 49.2% of the relationship research that Peterson examined is largely atheoretical in the sense we care about. Eleven of 65 studies (another 16.9%) "tested relatively specific relational hypothe- ses." It was our impression that many of these hypoth- eses would make more sense in the context of a larger theory. Thus, 66.2% of the relationship work he sur- veyed was not guided by a comprehensive relationship theory. Even among the remaining third, which Peter- son refers to as being "directly linked with compre- hensive theoreticalformulations," we think it likely that some could be fruitfully combined. For example, what Peterson calls the "Darwinian theory of mate selection" might be productively and parsimoniously combined with attachment theory, perhaps along the lines sug- gested in Simpson's commentary. We agree with Peterson that attachment theory is potentially important not only to abstract socialscience but also to the solution of some of society's pressing problems, such as child abuse, domestic violence, di- vorce, delinquency, drug abuse, depression, and teen pregnancy. A field of developmental psychopathology is emerging (e.g., Cicchetti, 1984, Sameroff & Emde, 1989; Sroufe & Rutter, 1984),and attachmenttheory is influential within it. We certainly hope that our exten- sions of attachment theory will eventually have clinical and policy implications.


If, as Peterson puts it, we are to build better theo- retical buildings in the close relationships field, we need to have a solid foundation. We think the foun- dation must consist of a theory concerning the most basic and universal aspects of human relationships. Regardless of whether the field ever arrives at a comprehensive theory or whether the eventual framework is based on Bowlby's formulations, we contend that any theory that fails to acknowledge that human beings are biological creatures whose rela- tionship behavior has been influenced by evolution- ary processes-any theory that is adevelopmental or that fails to explain both normative aspects and the origins and nature of relationship-relevantindividual

differences--will be incomplete at best. We hope that the conversation begun here, for which we owe the commentators a great debt of gratitude, will continue and will affect the field's construction plans.


Cindy Hazan, Department of Human Development and Family Studies,Van RensselaerHall, Cornell Uni- versity, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401.


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