The Cultural Nature of Attachment

From Strüngmann Forum Reports

The Cultural Nature of Attachment

Contextualizing Relationships and Development

Edited by Heidi Keller and Kim A. Bard

Multidisciplinary perspectives on the cultural and evolutionary foundations of children's attachment relationships and on the consequences for education, counseling, and policy.





Multidisciplinary perspectives on the cultural and evolutionary foundations of children's attachment relationships and on the consequences for education, counseling, and policy.

It is generally acknowledged that attachment relationships are important for infants and young children, but there is little clarity on what exactly constitutes such a relationship. Does it occur between two individuals (infant–mother or infant–father) or in an extended network? In the West, monotropic attachment appears to function as a secure foundation for infants, but is this true in other cultures? This volume offers perspectives from a range of disciplines on these questions. Contributors from psychology, biology, anthropology, evolution, social policy, neuroscience, information systems, and practice describe the latest research on the cultural and evolutionary foundations on children's attachment relationships as well as the implications for education, counseling, and policy.

The contributors discuss such issues as the possible functions of attachment, including trust and biopsychological regulation; the evolutionary foundations, if any, of attachment; ways to model attachment using the tools of information science; the neural foundations of attachment; and the influence of cultural attitudes on attachment. Taking an integrative approach, the book embraces the wide cultural variations in attachment relationships in humans and their diversity across nonhuman primates. It proposes research methods for the culturally sensitive study of attachment networks that will lead to culturally sensitive assessments, practices, and social policies.

ContributorsKim Bard, Marjorie Beeghly, Allyson J. Bennett, Yvonne Bohr, David L. Butler, Nandita Chaudhary, Stephen H. Chen, James B. Chisholm, Lynn A. Fairbanks, Ruth Feldman, Barbara L. Finlay, Suzanne Gaskins, Valeria Gazzola, Ariane Gernhardt, Jay Giedd, Alma Gottlieb, Kristen Hawkes, William D. Hopkins, Johannes Johow, Elfriede Kalcher-Sommersguter, Heidi Keller, Michael Lamb, Katja Liebal, Cindy H. Liu, Gilda A. Morelli, Marjorie Murray, Masako Myowa-Yamakoshi, Naomi Quinn, Mariano Rosabal-Coto, Dirk Scheele, Gabriel Scheidecker, Margaret A. Sheridan, Volker Sommer, Stephen J. Suomi, Akira Takada, Douglas M. Teti, Bernard Thierry, Ross A. Thompson, Akemi Tomoda, Nim Tottenham, Ed Tronick, Marga Vicedo, Leslie Wang, Thomas S. Weisner, Relindis D. Yovsi


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262036900 448 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 18 color illus., 2 b&w illus., 3 halftones


Heidi Keller

Heidi Keller is Professor Emeritus at Osnabrück University, Germany, and a Director of Nevet Greenhouse of Context-Informed Research and Training for Children in Need in the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Kim A. Bard

Kim Bard is Professor of Comparative Developmental Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.


  • Heidi Keller and Kim Bard are outstanding researchers who have come together from somewhat disparate fields of study to produce a unique and truly one-of-a-kind reference on the nature of attachment. By examining attachment across human cultures and primate species, this volume describes the core aspects of attachment, which in turn has profound implications for theory and research. This work is a must read for all interested in culture and development in their broadest sense.

    David Matsumoto

    Professor of Psychology, San Francisco State University; coauthor of Culture and Psychology

  • The Cultural Nature of Attachment is a thorough, scholarly reexamination and reinvention of the theory of attachment. The volume presents the findings and speculation of an incredibly diverse body of fine academic thinkers. The editors have done a fantastic job of weaving together this chorus of Strüngmann Forum participants into an extremely readable and coherent survey of the latest thinking on a venerable but heretofore culture-bound theory.

    David F. Lancy

    author of The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings


  • Winner of the 2018 Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award.