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Attachment through a Cultural Lens





Nebi Sümer

(Middle East Technical University)

Although secure attachment appears to be a universal norm with relatively less variation, the prevalence of insecure attachment patterns varies across cultures. Recent work has documented that attachment anxiety in collectivistic cultures and attachment avoidance in individualistic cultures are relatively high, suggesting the role of cultural characteristics and mindsets in shaping fundamental attachment orientations and associated parenting behaviors. Arguing that culturally incongruent attachment orientations may pose greater risk for optimal psychological functioning, I expected that attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance would be the stronger predictor of critical outcome variables from parenting behaviors and happiness to academic self-efficacy in individualistic and collectivistic contexts, respectively. In this talk, first, I’ll summarize the recent conceptualizations and studies on cultural aspects of attachment, and then, present the main findings from our studies testing the predictive power of attachment dimensions on parenting behaviors, relationship satisfaction, and academic self-efficacy among children in Turkey and adults from Turkey and the USA. Finally, I’ll discuss the cultural implications of our findings, especially the potential risk factors associated with attachment avoidance in the collectivist/relational context.