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Psychology   >   Attachment – History, Models and Culture

The History of Attachment Theory

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Attachment – History, Models and Culture

In this course, Professor Jeremy Holmes explores attachment theory. In the first lecture, we review its history. In the second lecture, we think about how attachment theory and modern evolutionary theory are linked, highlighting key figures in its development, such as Viktor Frankl and Phillip Shaver. In the third lecture, we think about how attachment has been measured, including Mary Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’ and Mary Main’s ‘Adult Attachment Interview’. Next, we focus on the role of caregiver sensitivity in attachment, reviewing the Grossman model of parental attachment roles. In the fifth lecture, we introduce language, considering the role it plays in attachment through the lens of Grice’s principles of effective communication. In the sixth and final lecture, we explore attachment theory across different cultures, addressing the field’s historical focus on WEIRD participants, and Margaret Mead’s challenge to John Bowlby’s founding theories.

The History of Attachment Theory

In this lecture, we think about the history of attachment theory, focusing in particular on: (i) John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth as founding figures; (ii) the importance of ethology and the role of Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen in enlightening psychology to a new, non-laboratory based way of studying human attachment; (iii) Harry Harlow’s research on monkey surrogate ‘mothers’, signposted as a key influence on Bowlby’s attachment dynamic theory; (iv) Shafer and Emerson’s stages of attachment, focusing on some of the modern theory which challenges aspects of its structure.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Holmes, J. (2021, October 13). Attachment – History, Models and Culture - The History of Attachment Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Holmes, J. "Attachment – History, Models and Culture – The History of Attachment Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 13 Oct 2021,

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Prof. Jeremy Holmes

Prof. Jeremy Holmes

Exeter University