Religion as attachment: Normative processes and individual differences

  • Granqvist P
  • Mikulincer M
  • Shaver P
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Abstract

The authors review findings from the psychology of religion showing that believers' perceived relationships with God meet the definitional criteria for attachment relationships. They also review evidence for associations between aspects of religion and individual differences in interpersonal attachment security and insecurity. They focus on two developmental pathways to religion. The first is a "compensation" pathway involving distress regulation in the context of insecure attachment and past experiences of insensitive caregiving. Research suggests that religion as compensation might set in motion an "earned security" process for individuals who are insecure with respect to attachment. The second is a "correspondence" pathway based on secure attachment and past experiences with sensitive caregivers who were religious. The authors also discuss conceptual limitations of a narrow religion-as-attachment model and propose a more inclusive framework that accommodates concepts such as mindfulness and "nonattachment" from nontheistic religions such as Buddhism and New Age spirituality.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attachment
  • Buddhism
  • Internal working models
  • Mindfulness
  • Religion

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Authors

  • Pehr GranqvistStockholm Universitet Samhallsvetenskapliga fakulteten Psykologiska institutionen

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  • Mario Mikulincer

  • Phillip R. Shaver

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