Attachment and caregiving are separate motivational systems that share the common evolutionary purpose of favoring child security. In the goal of studying the processes underlying the transmission of attachment styles, this study focused on the role of adult attachment styles in shaping preferences toward particular styles of caregiving. We hypothesized a correspondence between attachment and caregiving styles: we expect an individual to show a preference for a caregiving behavior coherent with his/her own attachment style, in order to increase the chance of passing it on to offspring. We activated different representations of specific caregiving modalities in females, by using three videos in which mothers with different Adult Attachment states of mind played with their infants. Participants' facial expressions while watching were recorded and analyzed with FaceReader software. After each video, participants' attitudes toward the category "mother" were measured, both explicitly (semantic differential) and implicitly (single target-implicit association task, ST-IAT). Participants' adult attachment styles (experiences in close relationships revised) predicted attitudes scores, but only when measured implicitly. Participants scored higher on the ST-IAT after watching a video coherent with their attachment style. No effect was found on the facial expressions of disgust. These findings suggest a role of adult attachment styles in shaping implicit attitudes related to the caregiving system.
PMID: 26779060 [PubMed]