Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications

By Jude Cassidy; Phillip R. Shaver | Go to book overview

10
Attachment and Temperament

Redundant, Independent, or Interacting
Influences on Interpersonal Adaptation
and Personality Development?

BRIAN E. VAUGH

KELLY K. BOST

For nearly two decades, a vigorous research effort has been directed at documenting and explaining relations between attachment and temperament in infancy, childhood, and adulthood (for reviews, see Goldsmith & Alansky, 1987; Goldsmith & Harman, 1994; Seifer & Schiller, 1995). Although the data generated from this effort reveal the overlap across behavioral domains relevant to constructs arising from attachment theory and from theories of temperament, interpretations of this overlap vary (largely as a function of the theoretical preferences of investigators reporting on these relations). The purpose of this chapter is to review the literature relating attachment and temperament constructs in light of the theoretical claims arising from attachment theory and from theories of temperament. The chapter is divided into three major sections. First, we present brief treatments of the conceptual and empirical domains embraced and claims advanced by attachment theory and by the major individual-difference theories of temperament. Second, we document the history of communication between temperament and attachment theorists at both conceptual and empirical levels. This section includes a detailed review of literature organized both in terms of the conceptual territory in dispute and in terms of the approach to assessing temperament employed by investigators. In the final section of the chapter, the conclusions justified by empirical findings are summarized and critically evaluated in the context of the claims about social adaptation and personality development proffered from attachment theory and from the major theories of temperament.


PRÉCIS OF ATTACHMENT
AND TEMPERAMENT THEORIES

The Bowlby–Ainsworth theory of attachment explains how and why infant–parent bonds are assembled over the first years of life, and how interpersonal experiences in the context of attachment relationships set developmental trajectories with regard to the assembly of subsequent interpersonal relationships, especially love relationships. Although implications for personality development and functioning are implicit in attachment theory, attachment relationships are explicitly social, and the primary emphases of the theory are on the construction, maintenance, and subjective meaning of attachment bonds. In contrast, most temperament theories have been proposed as explanations of endogenously organized individual differences in styles of action or in the actions themselves (see Strelau, 1983, for a treatment of temperament that does not emphasize individual differences as the core phenomena to be explained). Temperament dimensions are often

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