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Does adult attachment depend on childhood attachment?

The behavioural attachment system provides a theoretical linkage between a model of human development and logical theories of emotions and personality (John Bowlby, 1958).

Hazen and Shaver (1987) stated that infant-caregiver and adult romantic relationships share the same motivational system and attachment behaviour structure. Hazen and Shaver also noted that both infant and adult individuals feel secure in the attachment figure’s presence and show intimacy through facial features, bodily contact, exploration in existence and insecurity in absence.

Several factors predict whether adult attachment depends on, is tied to, or depends upon childhood attachment. Firstly, it depends on the individual’s relationships and factors and occasions that contribute to functioning relationships. Secondly, adults’ social, and interpersonal relationships also influence their adult attachments. For instance, if they tend to be secure, confident and supported by their partner, they might have experienced secure attachment with their caregiver.

Moreover, it is empirically evidenced in “adult attachment theory” that adult romantic relationships share the same attachment style as infants if their romantic relationships are the right attachment relationships. It is also a possibility that adult attachment relationships might only have a partial reflection of their infant’s attachment styles either secure or insecure. Therefore, adult and infant caregiver relationships should share the same exploration process in adulthood and infancy.

However, the stability of attachment styles is controversial, because children with secure attachment may show an avoidant attachment style after experiencing some distressing events such as divorce, separation, etc. However, social and cognitive mechanisms imply stability as the rule rather than expectation in relationships. These mechanisms also serve as a predictors of continuity and discontinuity of relationships under any circumstances. (Fraley, 2002).


B, J., (1958). Attachment theory. Retrieved on 26 February

Hazen, C. & Shaver, P., (1987). Retrieved on 26 February, from

R, C, F., (2002). A brief overview of adult attachment theory and research.  University of

Illinois Retrieved on 26 February from



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