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Representation/Attachment theory/Shaver/Mikulincer: mental representations of attachment figures (see relations/Bowlby) and self-sub-routines that develop through the internalization of caring and soothing qualities of attachment figures can serve as symbolic sources of support, comfort and protection (Mikulincer and Shaver 2004(1)).
They can also provide models of effective, loving behaviour that influence the way a person regards and treats him- or herself in the temporary absence of an actual attachment figure. >Representation/Bowlby, >Attachment theory/Bowlby.
Using contemporary research techniques, we (Mikulincer, Birnbaum and Woddis and Nachmias 2000(2); Mikulincer, Gillath and Shaver 2002(3)) have found
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that adults react to even minimal threat cues with activation of proximity-related thoughts and mental representations of security-providing attachment figures. In these studies, subliminal priming with a threat word (e.g., illness, failure) was found to heighten the cognitive accessibility of attachment-related mental representations, indicated by faster lexical-decision times for proximity-related words (e.g., love, closeness) and the names of people nominated as providing protection and security (e.g., the name of a parent, spouse or close friend).
1. Mikulincer, M. and Shaver, P. R. 2004. Security-based self-representations in adulthood: contents and processes, in W. S. Rholes and J. A. Simpson (eds.), Adult attachment: theory, research, and clinical implications, pp. 159–95. New York: Guilford Press
2. Mikulincer, M., Birnbaum, G., Woddis, D. and Nachmias, O. 2000. Stress and accessibility of proximity-related thoughts: exploring the normative and intraindividual components of attachment theory, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78: 509–23
3. Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O. and Shaver, P. R. 2002. Activation of the attachment system in adulthood: threat-related primes increase the accessibility of mental representations of attachment figures, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 83: 881–95
Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, “Attachment theory: I. Motivational, individual-differences and structural aspects”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009