Genetic correlates of adult attachment style

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Oct;34(10):1396-405. doi: 10.1177/0146167208321484. Epub 2008 Aug 7.


Attachment theory attempts to explain effects of social experiences, not genes, on personality development. Most studies of the development of attachment insecurities support this emphasis on social experiences rather than genes, although there are exceptions. In the present study, the authors examine associations between attachment insecurities and particular genetic polymorphisms related to emotions and social behavior. They find that (a) anxious attachment is associated with a polymorphism of the DRD2 dopamine receptor gene, (b) avoidant attachment is associated with a polymorphism of the 5HT2A serotonin receptor gene, and (c) the rs53576 A polymorphism of the OXTR oxytocin receptor gene is not associated with attachment insecurities. These findings suggest that attachment insecurities are partially explained by particular genes, although there is still a great deal of individual difference variance that remains to be explained by other genes or social experiences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personality / genetics
  • Personality Development*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / genetics
  • Receptors, Serotonin / genetics*
  • Serotonin / genetics
  • Social Behavior*


  • Receptors, Oxytocin
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Serotonin