(1) Attachment and religion

The attachment and religion research field is devoted to the study of how the individual's religiousness and spirituality are linked to her/his attachment relationships and experiences.

From developmental psychology comes the attachment theoretical foundation. Attachment theory consists both of an evolutionary account of why and how children and their parents form strong affectional bonds to each other, as well as descriptions and hypothesized developmental implications of individual differences in child-parent attachment patterns.

Some of the religious phenomena that have been the subject of inquiry concern changes in religiousness over time, New Age spirituality, and different pathways (e.g., religious socialization, distress regulation) supposedly leading to religion. These phenomena are empirically studied in relation to the different attachment patterns postulated by the theory of attachment.

We have also focused on the need for methodological improvements in the psychology of religion and have conducted attachment and religion studies using prospective longitudinal and experimental designs, as well as more indirect, implicit measures of both attachment and religiousness.

Moreover, we emphasize a life-span perspective on the development of attachment and religion, focusing on links between the two from early childhood until late adulthood. Apart from the researchers listed below, many bachelor and masters students have been involved in these projects over the years.

Funding provided by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, The Sasakawa Young Leaders' Fellowship Fund, and the Swedish Research Council.

Collaborative researchers include Prof. Anders G. Broberg, Dr. Andreas Birgegård, Prof. Rosalinda Cassibba, Prof. Jane Dickie, PhD student Mari Fransson, Prof. Berit Hagekull, Prof. Tord Ivarsson, Prof. Lee Kirkpatrick, Prof. Mary Main, Prof. Mario Mikulincer, and Prof. Phillip R. Shaver.

(2) Adolescent and Adult Attachment

Although attachment theory and research were originally devoted to understanding young children’s emotional ties to their primary caregivers, subsequent theory and research have also addressed attachment processes in adolescence and adulthood.

This has been done in two different traditions, the first based on linguistic analysis of adults’ attachment history narratives primarily regarding attachment to parents (common in developmental psychology), the second based on an analysis of romantic-pair bonds as principal attachment relationships in adulthood (common in social psychology).

We have conducted research on adolescent and adult attachment in both traditions, and along three different lines. First, we have studied the prospective transition from parent to peer (most often romantic pair-bond) attachment in adolescence. Second, we have focused on individual differences in adult attachment in relation to a wide variety of emotion-regulation relevant correlates, including eating disorders, drug use and abuse, self-mutilation, and coping. Finally, we study interlinkages between attachment in childhood on the one hand and personality and socioemotional correlates in young adulthood on the other, as part of a long-term longitudinal project on socioemotional development. In this latter project we also investigate the roles of life-events and temperament as potential moderators of attachment-based associations.

Funding provided by the Swedish Research Council and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Researchers: Pehr Granqvist, Mari Fransson, Prof. Berit Hagekull, Prof. Gunilla Bohlin, Prof. Wolfgang Friedlmeier.

(3) Attachment in children of mothers with an intellectual disability

Our aim with this project is to gain knowledge about attachment among children with mothers who have an intellectual disability (ID). As several external risk factors have been found to be overrepresented among mothers with ID, the project also focuses on potential risk- and protective factors for their children's development.

Despite the fact that parental ID has gained a lot of attention and has been a source of considerable controversy, no previously published study has examined attachment among children of these parents.

This project is undertaken in collaboration with FUB (Föreningen för utvecklingsstörda barn, ungdomar och vuxna), Stockholm Public Health Care Center, and the child and adult habilitation centres at Uppsala läns landsting.

Funding provided by FAS (Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research).

Researchers and collaborators: Pehr Granqvist, Mari Fransson, Prof. Lene Lindberg, Dr. Kerstin Andersson, Lydia Springer, Lena Palm Samuelsdotter, and Tommie Forslund.

Selected recent publications (since 2006)

Peer-review journal publications

Fransson, M., Granqvist, P., Bohlin, G., & Hagekull, B. (2013). Interlinkages between attachment and the five factor model of personality in middle childhood and early adulthood: A longitudinal approach. Attachment and Human Development, 15.

Cassibba, R., Granqvist, P., & Costantini, A. (2013). Mothers’ attachment security predicts their children’s sense of God’s closeness. Attachment and Human Development, 15, 51-64.

Granqvist, P., Mikulincer, M., Gewirtz, V., & Shaver, P.R. (2012). Experimental findings on God as an attachment figure – Normative processes and moderating effects of internal working models. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 804-818.

Granqvist, P. (2012). Introduction to the special issue: Advancements in the study of attachment and religion/spirituality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 22, 173-179.

Granqvist, P., Hagekull, B., & Ivarsson, T. (2012). Disorganized attachment promotes mystical experiences via a propensity for alterations in consciousness (Absorption). The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 22, 180-197.

Ivarsson, T., Granqvist, P., Broberg, A.G., & Gillberg, C. (2010). Attachment States of Mind in Adolescents with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and/or Depressive Disorders: a controlled study. European Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 19, 845-853.

Granqvist, P. (2010). Religion as attachment: The Godin award lecture. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 32, 5-24.

Granqvist, P., Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P.R. (2010). Religion as attachment: Normative processes and individual differences. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 49-59.

Granqvist, P., Fransson, M., & Hagekull, B. (2009). Disorganized Attachment, Absorption, and New Age Spirituality – A Mediational Model. Attachment and Human Development, 11, 385-403.

Cassibba, R., Granqvist, P., Costantini, A., & Gatto, S. (2008). Attachment and God representations among lay Catholics, priests, and religious: A matched comparison study based on the Adult Attachment Interview. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1753-1763.

Granqvist, P., Ivarsson, T., Broberg, A.G., & Hagekull, B. (2007). Examining relations between attachment, religiosity, and New Age spirituality using the Adult Attachment Interview. Developmental Psychology, 43, 590-601.

Granqvist, P., Ljungdahl, C., & Dickie, J.R. (2007). God is nowhere, God is now here: Attachment activation, security of attachment (SAT), and God proximity among 5-7 year-old children. Attachment and Human Development, 9, 55-71.

Friedlmeier, W., & Granqvist, P. (2006). Attachment transfer among German and Swedish adolescents: A prospective longitudinal study. Personal Relationships, 13, 261-279.

Book chapters in international edited scientific handbooks

Granqvist, P. (in press). Religion and cognitive, emotional, and social development. In V. Saroglou (Ed.), Religion, Personality, and Social Psychology. Psychology Press.

Richert, R., & Granqvist, P. (in press). Religious development: in childhood. In R. Paloutzian & C. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. NY: Guilford.

Granqvist, P., & Kirkpatrick, L.A. (2013). Religion, spirituality, and attachment. In K. Pargament (Ed.), APA Handbook for the psychology of religion and spirituality (Vol 1): Context, theory, and research (pp. 129-155). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Granqvist, P. (2012). Attachment and religious development in adolescence: The implications of culture. In G. Trommsdorff & X. Chen (Eds.), Values, religion, and culture in adolescent development (pp. 315-340). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Granqvist, P., Reijman, S., & Cardeña, E. (2011). Altered consciousness and human development. In E. Cardeña & M Winkelman (Eds.), Altering consciousness: A multidisciplinary perspective (pp. 211-234). Praeger.

Granqvist, P., & Kirkpatrick, L.A. (2008). Attachment and religious representations and behavior. I J. Cassidy & P.R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd Ed.) (pp. 906-933). New York: Guilford.

In the media

Participation in international expert panel discussion on "Infant disorganized attachment: The key questions", designed to be useful for practitioners and clinicians. Filmed at UC Berkeley, Jan 2017, and available at: www.youtube.com