University of Cambridge > > Zangwill Club > Genes and environment in adolescent attachment: a challenge to the received wisdom?

Genes and environment in adolescent attachment: a challenge to the received wisdom?

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Abstract Attachment theory makes strong claims about the environmental causation of individual differences in attachment across the lifespan. Twin studies by our group and others have shown quite consistently that attachment in infancy is indeed strongly influenced by the environment and shows little if any influence of genetics, in marked contrast to most other domains of development. However, no genetically informative studies have been carried in later development (e.g., childhood and adolescence), so currently we do not know whether this is a peculiarity of attachment in infancy, or a more general feature of attachment across development. Furthermore, since our early work, numerous studies have appeared that have implicated several specific gene polymorphisms in attachment, particularly disorganised attachment, which seem to suggest a more complicated story even in infancy. In this talk I will review and critique these findings and report on some data coming from a new, relatively large twin study of attachment in adolescence. I will argue that, collectively, the picture continues to assert the importance of the environment in the development of attachment security and insecurity in early development, but that genes may progressively influence attachment later in the lifespan.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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