Psychological Science 2018, (3) 615-620 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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Attachment security, Priming, Social behaviors, Transfer
ZOU Jian-Ke
LIU Xiang-Beng
Article by Zhang,p
Article by Zhang,B.M.Z
Article by Zou,J.K
Article by Liu,X.B

The Methods, Effects and Mechanism of Priming Attachment Security towards Social Behaviors


Attachment refers to an individual's tendency to seek closeness and protection from the significant people (such as parents, friends, companions etc.) with born. The interaction between individual and their attachment object will gradually internalize and produce the stable attachment style. Although the attachment style is stable, but individual's behavior and emotional tendencies are not always expressed as a certain style, but will respond to the specific circumstances. Researchers found that supraliminal and subliminal priming attachment security lead people feel temporary security, and had significant effects on individual's social behavior. These effects are mainly manifested in the performance of more pro-social behaviors and disclosing, less deception, discrimination and moral disengagement behaviors. Baldwin and his colleagues (1996) explained the psychological mechanism of priming attachment security on social behaviors from the perspective of social cognition. They believed that the temporary sense of security suppressed the cognitive processing for negative social information, thus increased the positively behavioral response to situation. However, this statements ignored the effects form cognitive style and cognitive resource deficit. Mikulincer and Shaver (2007a) suggested a model of Attachment System Functioning and Dynamics to explain the priming attachment security. According to this model, priming attachment security brought about positive self and others' representations, and priming attachment insecurity brought about negative representations. Then the representations extended and constructed the new behavior system under various situations. But this theory was limited to explain the specific population. We suggest that priming attachment security is kind of transfer based on the state security as psychological aspect and the activation of related brain regions as the physiological aspect. Transfer is a substantive psychological process, which refers to the dependency of human conduct, learning, or performance on prior experience. Transfer explored how individuals would transfer learning in one context to another, similar context – or how "improvement in one mental function" could influence a related one. Priming attachment security activate the safety internal working model following by the positive mental representation of peoples, and transfer to other positive aspects, such as more pro-social behaviors and disclosing, less discrimination, deception and moral disengagement behaviors among individuals with attachment security, while the opposites are in individuals with attachment insecurity. Meanwhile, there may be an inverse migration process for individuals with insufficient experience in security attachment. They acquired attachment security gradually through the observation of positive social interaction presenting by parents, peers and medias. In most cases, both the transfer and inverse transfer exist at the same time and contribute to the finally attachment style. In the future, researchers might focus on creating more refined and stringent experimental conditions to examine the effect of priming attachment security on social behaviors, such as the ecological validity in daily life situations. The researchers could also try to explore the effects of multiple attachment priming on social behavior, and the sustainability of these effects. Moreover, it is also worth to pay attention to further clarify the brain mechanism of the priming attachment security on social behavior using ERPs, fMRI and other technologies.

Keywords Attachment security, Priming, Social behaviors, Transfer  
Received 2017-03-19 Revised 2017-09-27 Online: 2018-05-20 
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