The development of adult attachment styles: four lessons

Curr Opin Psychol. 2019 Feb:25:26-30. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.02.008. Epub 2018 Feb 24.


Why are some adults secure or insecure in their relationships? The authors review four lessons they have learned from longitudinal research on the developmental antecedents of adult attachment styles. First, although adult attachment appears to have its origins in early caregiving experiences, those associations are weak and inconsistent across measurement domains. Second, attachment styles appear to be more malleable in childhood and adolescence than in adulthood, leading to asymmetries in socialization and selection processes. Third, early experiences do not determine adult outcomes. Fourth, there is still a lot to learn, and future research requires examining relationship-specific attachment patterns, the distinction between distal and proximal factors, and interactions between relational and genetic vulnerabilities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Psychology, Child