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Attachment – History, Models and Culture

1. The History of Attachment Theory

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This first lecture introduces John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth as founding figures of attachment theory. The lecture moves on to highlight the importance of ethology and the role of Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen in enlightening psychology to a new, non-laboratory focused way of studying human attachment. Harry Harlow’s research on baby monkey surrogate ‘mothers’ is signposted as a key influence on Bowlby’s attachment dynamic theory. Professor Holmes then outlines Shaffer and Emerson’s stages of attachment, focusing on some of the modern theory which challenges aspects of its structure.


In this course, Professor Jeremy Holmes discusses attachment theory, starting with its history in lecture one. Lecture two elaborates on how attachment theory and modern evolutionary theory are linked. This lecture highlights key figures in its development, such as Viktor Frankl and Phillip Shaver. In lecture three, Professor Holmes outlines how attachment has been measured, including Mary Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’ and Mary Main’s ‘Adult Attachment Interview’. Lecture four focuses on the role of caregiver sensitivity in attachment, reviewing the Grossman model of parental attachment roles. The fifth lecture brings in language, considering the role it plays in attachment through the lens of Grice’s principles of effective communication. The sixth and final lecture explores attachment theory across different cultures, addressing the field’s historical focus on WEIRD participants, and Margaret Mead’s challenge to John Bowlby’s founding theories.


Jeremy Holmes is a visiting professor of psychology at the University of Exeter. He is a consultant psychiatrist and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who specialises in attachment theory. He has authored a number of books on attachment theory, which explore its history, as well as bringing it together with modern psychoanalytical theory.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Holmes, J. (2021, October 13). Attachment – History, Models and Culture - The History of Attachment Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Holmes, Jeremy. "Attachment – History, Models and Culture – The History of Attachment Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 13 Oct 2021,

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