An Attachment Perspective on Loneliness

Mario Mikulincer, Phillip R. Shaver

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

46 Scopus citations


this chapter, we explore the relevance of attachment theory for understanding individual differences in loneliness and propose specific attachment‐relevant cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that can explain these differences. We begin with a brief summary of attachment theory and an account of the two major dimensions of adult attachment orientations, attachment anxiety and avoidance. We then review evidence concerning the associations between these dimensions and loneliness, proposing that the associations are mediated by attachment‐related cognitive‐motivational mechanisms. Next we review studies of the ways in which attachment orientations contribute to a person's goal structures, mental representations of self and others, and mental scripts concerning interpersonal transactions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Solitude
Subtitle of host publicationPsychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781118427378
ISBN (Print)9781118427361
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.


  • adult attachment
  • interpersonal processes
  • loneliness


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