Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 233
Personality/hyperacitvation/deactivation/attachment theory/Shaver/Mikulincer: When attachment figures are not reliably available and supportive, a sense of security is not attained, negative working models of self and others are formed, and secondary strategies of affect regulation come into play. According to Cassidy and Kobak (1988)(1), these secondary strategies are of two kinds: hyperactivation and deactivation of the attachment system.
Hyperactivation (which Bowlby (1982/1969)(2) called ‘protest’) is characterized by energetic, insistent attempts to get a relationship partner, viewed as insufficiently available or responsive, to pay more attention and provide better care and support. Hyperactivating strategies include clinging, controlling and coercive responses; cognitive and behavioural efforts to establish physical contact and a sense of ‘oneness’; and overdependence on relationship partners as a source of protection (Shaver and Mikulincer 2002)(3).
Deactivation refers to inhibition of proximity-seeking inclinations and actions, suppression or discounting of threats that might activate the attachment system, and determination to handle stresses alone (a stance Bowlby (1982/1969)(2), called ‘compulsive self-reliance’). (Shaver and Hazan 1993)(4).
These tendencies are bolstered by a self-reliant attitude that decreases dependence on others and discourages acknowledgment of personal faults (Mikulincer and Shaver 2007)(5). In examining individual differences in the functioning of the attachment system in infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood, attachment researchers have focused on a person’s attachment style – the pattern of relational needs, cognitions, emotions and behaviours that results from satisfactory or frustrating interactions with attachment figures. These styles were first described by Ainsworth (1967(6); Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters and Wall 1978(7)). >Strange Situation/Ainsworth.


1. Cassidy, J. and Kobak, R. R. 1988. Avoidance and its relationship with other defensive processes, in J. Belsky and T. Nezworski (eds.), Clinical implications of attachment, pp. 300–23. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
2. Bowlby, J. 1982. Attachment and loss, vol. I, Attachment, 2nd edn. New York: Basic Books (original edn 1969)
3. Shaver, P. R. and Mikulincer, M. 2002. Attachment-related psychodynamics, Attachment and Human Development 4: 133–61
4. Shaver, P. R. and Hazan, C. 1993. Adult romantic attachment: theory and evidence, in D. Perlman and W. Jones (eds.), Advances in personal relationships, vol. IV, pp. 29–70. London: Jessica Kingsley
5. Mikulincer, M. and Shaver, P. R. 2007. Attachment in adulthood: structure, dynamics, and change. New York: Guilford Press
6. Ainsworth, M. D. S. 1967. Infancy in Uganda: infant care and the growth of love. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
7. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E. and Wall, S. 1978. Patterns of attachment: assessed in the Strange Situation and at home. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum


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


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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.
Attachment Theory
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-04-19
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