Mario Mikulincer, Phillip R. Shaver

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

1 Scopus citations


In his exposition of attachment theory, Bowlby (1973, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1988) emphasized the contribution of mental representations of attachment security to healthy socio-emotional development during childhood and adolescence, and to psychological and social well-being in adulthood. These mental representations, which Bowlby called internal working models, include expectations that relationship partners will be available, sensitive, and supportive when support is needed. Working models of secure relationships allow a person to cope constructively with stressful events, maintain self-esteem and emotional stability, and contribute constructively to mutually satisfying social interactions. In this chapter we review the extensive research literature on security-sustaining working models and show that both chronic (i.e., dispositional) and momentary activation of mental representations of attachment security are inner resources that contribute to mental health and psychosocial adjustment. (In related chapters in this volume, Gillath and Karantzas review the effects of attachment security on prosocial behavior, and Hart highlights the interplay between attachment security, self-esteem, and cultural worldviews in coping with existential threats.) We begin this chapter with a brief account of attachment theory and then explain our model of attachment processes in adulthood (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007a). This model is an extension of Bowlby’s theory that is supported by 25 years of research by personality and social psychologists (see Gillath and Karantzas’s and Hart’s chapters in this volume for further applications of our model). Next, we focus on the anchoring of attachment security in expectations concerning relationship partners’ sensitivity and responsiveness (expectations organized within a secure-base script), and the effects of security-enhancing mental representations on a person’s ability to cope with threats and traumas. We then discuss evidence concerning the neural and psychological reality of the secure-base script.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Personal Security
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317498476
ISBN (Print)9781848726758
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


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