Universality claim of attachment theory: Children's socioemotional development across cultures

Autor(en): Keller, Heidi
Stichwörter: attachment; CONSTRUCT; culture; developmental pathways; ethics; FAMILY DRAWINGS; interventions; Multidisciplinary Sciences; PSYCHOLOGY; REPRESENTATIONS; Science & Technology - Other Topics; SOCIALIZATION
Erscheinungsdatum: 2018
Herausgeber: NATL ACAD SCIENCES
Journal: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Volumen: 115
Ausgabe: 45
Startseite: 11414
Seitenende: 11419
Zusammenfassung: 
The first part of this paper reviews the basic tenets of attachment theory with respect to differences in cultural socialization strategies. In one strategy infants have the lead, and the social environment is responsive to the infant's wishes and preferences. In another strategy the caregivers-children or adults-are experts who know what is best for a baby without exploring his or her mental states. Accordingly, the definition of attachment is conceived as a negotiable emotional bond or a network of responsibilities. Attachment theory represents the Western middle-class perspective, ignoring the care-giving values and practices in the majority of the world. However, attachment theory claims universality in all its components. Since the claim of universality implies moral judgments about good and bad parenting, ethical questions need to be addressed. These issues are discussed in the second part of the paper. It is first demonstrated that sensitive responsiveness in attachment theory is built on a different concept of the person and self than concepts of good caregiving in many rural subsistence-based farming families. Evaluating one system with the standards of another ignores different realities and different value systems. The common practice of large-scale interventions in rural subsistence-based contexts promoting Western-style parenting strategies without knowing the local culture positions a false understanding of scientific evidence against cultural knowledge. This practice is unethical. Diversity needs to be recognized as the human condition, and the recognition of diversity is an obligation for better science as well as for improving people's lives.
ISSN: 00278424
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720325115

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