Reliance on leaders and social institutions: An attachment perspective

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    The ramifications of attachment processes in adulthood at the societal level are explored, specifically, why and under what circumstances followers form attachment relationships with a leader, and how the variability in these relationships can reflect the followers' internal working models of attachment. It is argued that in crisis situations, individuals tend to form affectional bonds with (mostly charismatic) leaders that function in many respects like an attachment relationship between a child and a parent. Relations between individuals and various social institutions, such as community or state, are likewise portrayed as involving attachment dynamics. The provision of security and protection (the safe haven and the secure base functions) by social structures, institutions, and leaders is seen as needed because of the inherent perceived imperfection and fallibility of "regular" attachment figures in adulthood (e.g., parents, friends, and romantic partners). This reliance on leaders and social institutions is seen as reflecting the normative diversification in attachment dynamics that takes place with development. Cultural and individual variations in these processes are also considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)73-93
    Number of pages21
    JournalAttachment and Human Development
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2007


    • Attachment
    • Leadership
    • Parenting
    • Relationships
    • Security
    • Social institutions

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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