Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Adult Attachment

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Adult Attachment

Article excerpt

Adult Attachment. Judith Feeney & Patricia Noller. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 1996. 176 pp. Paperback ISBN 0-8039-7224-5. $16.95 paper.

The theme of the work discussed in this book is that an individual's early social experiences influence the quality of intimacy in later relationships. To that end, Judith Feeney and Patricia Noller provide an overview of theory and research into adult attachments, with particular emphasis on dating and marital relationships.

They examine first the nature and function of infant attachments by reviewing Bowlby's contributions on attachment and loss and Ainsworth's observational studies of infant-mother dyads. These analyses set the stage for a discussion of adult attachment. Because attachments play a pivotal role, as Bowlby contends, in all close relationships from cradle to grave, the primary infantcaregiver bond serves as a prototype for later intimate relationships. Here Feeney and Noller turn to the work of Hazan and Shaver to make the argument that romantic love can be conceptualized as an attachment process. Differences in styles of adult attachment reflect rules and strategies that children learn for handling negative emotions. More specifically, the three major attachment styles described in the infant literature (secure, avoidant, or anxious-ambivalent) parallel the way affect is regulated in relationships between lovers and spouses.

The authors next point out that this intriguing theory is more complex than it appears. The heart of the book, and I think its real strength, is a synopsis of conceptual and methodological problems inherent in viewing romance as attachment. They discuss the difficulties researchers have in adequately defining adult attachment, they summarize models of exactly how this proces might work, and they outline a number of research questions remaining to be answered. For example, they point out that an indivudal whose style is to avoid intimacy may do so only when distressed. …

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