Nov 1, 2021
The title of this episode might ruffle some feathers. Attachment Theory is developmental psychology's shining star, the theory with the greatest predictive success, and one which has become popular among child psychiatrists. You can now hear it spoken about wherever child psychology is the main topic, and it has become something of a buzzword. Could this scientific theory really be "cultural ideology"? What would that even mean?
Attachment Theory as Cultural Ideology is the name of an essay within the volume Multiple Faces of Attachment - Cultural Variations on a Universal Human Need which I talk about in the recording. It is a collection of essays written by anthropologists plus one evolutionary psychologist on the problems with existing Attachment Theory - mainly its lack of applicability outside of a Euro-American context. The Cultural Ideology essay in particular was the one that got me to buy the book, and it shows how Attachment Theory is in fact deeply intertwined with 20th century Western moralisms around the treatment of children.
In this part of the episode, I describe what Attachment Theory is, how it was developed, and biological evidence that would at least partially weaken its existing claims.
Enjoy the episode.
Anthropology: 39. The Geography of Thought by Richard Nisbett; 106. The Anthropology of Childhood by David Lancy; 116. Cultural Foundations of Learning, East and West by Jin Li