Adult Attachment Security: The Relational Scaffolding of Positive Psychology

Frederick G. Lopez

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Adult Attachment Security: The Relational Scaffolding of Positive Psychology

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For over three decades, attachment theory has served as a versatile and generative framework for studying how the dynamics of close, enduring emotional bonds with others (i.e., attachments) affect psychosocial growth and development across the life span. Indeed, in recent years, a substantial literature on adult attachment has emerged that has probed the nature, correlates, and consequences of security in one's intimate adult relationships. Although this literature initially emphasized the adverse impacts of attachment insecurity on human functioning, contemporary studies are increasingly adopting a positive psychological perspective that explores the contributions of secure adult relationships to the promotion and maintenance of healthy and adaptive behavior within and across multiple life domains. This chapter highlights this shift in emphasis by first considering how the positive psychology roots of attachment theory, as well as advances in the conceptualization and measurement of adult attachment security, support these initiatives. Following this, a selection of recent studies specifically examining associations between adult attachment security and such relevant constructs as hope, optimism, positive affect, parenting and caregiving competence, academic and career-related motivation, altruistic behavior, and existential well-being are reviewed. Taken together, findings from this emergent literature suggest that adult attachment security can serve as a major organizational construct in the continuing development of positive psychology. Finally, some potentially fruitful directions for future research on the synergistic contributions of adult attachment security to human competence and well-being are briefly discussed.

Keywords: adults; attachment; positive psychology; well-being; review

Article.  7801 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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