Attachment Theory Expanded

Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver

in The Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398991
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940905 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Attachment Theory Expanded

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  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology


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In this chapter we move from the original form of attachment theory and research to a more comprehensive behavioral systems theory of personality, motivation, and social behavior that considers both individual differences and the impact of relationship partners and other aspects of social situations. We begin by explaining the behavioral systems construct, including its species-universal and individual-differences aspects, which interact with social situations to shape social behavior. We discuss the behavioral systems studied to date: attachment, exploration, caregiving, sex, and power. We place more emphasis on the attachment system than on the other behavioral systems because it has received more research attention, but we also summarize new research related to the other behavioral systems. We suggest avenues for further theorizing and research that will lead to a more complete behavioral systems theory of personality and social behavior.

Keywords: attachment; exploration; caregiving; sex; power; behavioral system; personality development; social behavior

Article.  19976 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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