Affect, Imagery, and Attachment
and the Socialization of Emotion
Some years before John Bowlby enunciated the full scope of attachment theory, Silvan Tomkins produced the first two of four volumes setting forth another expansive and original theory: affect theory, which he envisioned as an overarching theory of the human being. It is interesting that the two theories have a certain degree of commonality with respect to the importance of emotions and feeling—a much neglected aspect of human psychology during the first 70 years of the century. The theories share other characteristics as well, but they are also distinctly different, as we will see.
Although Bowlby and Tomkins were contemporaries with closely overlapping lifespans, there is little evidence that they read or were influenced by each other’s work or the work of each other’s colleagues. Perhaps this is because Tomkins’s work had more influence in the field of adult personality research, whereas Bowlby’s influence was felt more acutely in the fields of developmental psychology and infancy. However, as Bowlby’s theory has been extended to the field of adult development within recent years, the complementarity of attachment and affect theory becomes ever more apparent. In this chapter I review the fundamental constructs of each theory, examine recent research in which the two fields seem to be converging, and propose future work that should further the integration of these two important models of human development. As I have argued elsewhere (Magai & McFadden, 1995), a truly integrative theory of personality development will need to take into account attachment theory’s insistence on the importance of the bond between parent and child in psychological development, as well as Tomkins’s more differentiated, emotion-specific view of personality development.
AND AFFECT THEORY
Table 34.1 displays some of the key constructs of each of the two theories under consideration. In Tomkins’s theory, emotions are primarily, though not exclusively, facial behaviors. At his 1990 plenary address at the International Society for Research on Emotions, he designated affect studies as the field of “inverse archeology.” He explained that emotion is not something that one has to dig for; instead, it is literally “skin deep” (i.e., located in and on the skin of the face). Like the “other” archeology, however, affect studies require certain tools to divine their mysteries— knowledge of “affect runes,” if you will. Tomkins believed that the face provides some of the most important clues to decoding the affective life, and he spent a substantial part of his academic career studying and writing about facial expres-