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Abstract

Attachment theory provides a conceptual framework for understanding intersections between personality and close relationships in adulthood. Moreover, attachment has implications for stress-related physiology and physical health. We review work on normative processes and individual differences in the attachment behavioral system, as well as their associations with biological mechanisms related to health outcomes. We highlight the need for more basic research on normative processes and physiology and discuss our own research on individual differences in attachment and links with physiology. We then describe a novel perspective on attachment and physiology, wherein stress-related physiological changes may also be viewed as supporting the social-cognitive and emotion regulatory functions of the attachment system through providing additional energy to the brain, which has implications for eating behavior and health. We close by discussing our work on individual differences in attachment and restorative processes, including sleep and skin repair, and by stressing the importance of developing biologically plausible models for describing how attachment may impact chronic illness.