Attachment, temperament, and adaptation: One long argument

Brian E. Vaughn, Nana Shin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The conceptual frameworks of both temperament and attachment have progressed substantially over the last 30 years. Studies focused on temperament now have a single, grounded theory to guide hypotheses and data collection, rather than the handful of frameworks that were competing for intellectual space in the 1980s. Attachment theory and research has become a juggernaut accumulating and assimilating facts and theoretical concepts from cognitive, social, clinical, and developmental psychology, as well as from psychoanalytic theory. From the current vantage point of both theoretical perspectives, the question of redundancies in explanatory constructs now seems quaint, historical, and somewhat misguided. Rather, it appears that advances in understandings of adaptation and development will come from posing theoretically informed questions about how the unique and joint effects of temperament and attachment may lead to a better understanding of both normative and individual growth. We had this sort of approach in mind when we suggested that attachment constructs should be relatively more informative than temperament constructs when examining interpersonal relationship outcomes and that temperament constructs should be relatively more informative when examining intrapersonal outcomes. Although this conjecture did not receive strong support from the studies available for review (both domains were useful in predicting outcomes in both interand intrapersonal domains), we did find that attachment security was more likely to moderate effects of temperament on outcomes than the reverse. There is also a hint in some of the studies of physiological reactivity and regulation that parenting quality and practices may modulate or tune the development of physiological and/or neurological structures that underlie both temperament and attachment security. Should new studies confirm this tantalizing hint, researchers from both theoretical frameworks gain an additional layer of complexity to integrate and then to leverage into broader and more implicative studies of growth and change. We anticipate that data from the MPCLS will be relevant and available to address such questions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMinnesota Symposia on Child Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationThe Origins and Organization of Adaptation and Maladaptation
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages53
ISBN (Electronic)9781118036600
ISBN (Print)9780470422731
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • Attachment
  • CNS
  • Relationship
  • Temperament


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