There is also substantial variation in the operationalisation and measurement of attachment — there are observation, interview and self-report methods, assessing attachment to parents and caregivers or to friends and romantic partners. The dynamic nature of attachment and the fact that it is assesses the quality of relationships is frequently ignored in favour of a tendency to see attachment as an individual trait.
Finally, many of the studies on attachment, particular those involving adults, are not grounded in theory. When relations with attachment are observed, they are therefore difficult to explain — why should attachment predict your health or job prospects or driving ability?
The Adult Attachment Series: On Being Dismissive | The Relationships, Love, Happiness Project
What are the developmental mechanisms underlying these relations? For some reason, people like to believe the attachment story and so it has achieved a degree of immunity to these concerns. Thankfully, the burgeoning interest in genetic and neurobiological mechanisms shaping development means that the concept of resilience has survived. Research in this millennium has shed light on the complex interaction between our genes and the environment in determining resilience and vulnerability.
Variations in the monoamine oxidase-A MAOA gene were found to interact with maltreatment in determining antisocial behaviour disorders. Having a particular MAOA genotype made children at an increased risk of having antisocial behaviour disorders if they were maltreated. These findings therefore qualify the assumption that maltreatment plays a direct causal role in antisocial behaviour disorders.
Behavioural genetics research has also highlighted how certain genetic factors influence development in indirect ways. For example, particular genotypes make individuals better or worse at dealing with environmental stress, which in turn relates to their mental health. Resilience in this case is characterised not as adapting to difficult circumstances, but as having the predisposition that enables these circumstances to be avoided in the first place.
Under these conditions, the environment itself conveys resilience. Simple causal relations are attractive because they are easy to grasp. Getting your head around the complex web of developmental pathways highlighted by the resilience literature is considerably more difficult. Surely people need to know that development is a dynamic process in which there is a great deal of instability and change, only some of which relates to how children are parented?
This is a much more optimistic view than seeing future development having its course set by the security of the parent—child attachment relationship in toddlerhood. Already a member? Sign in Or Create an account. Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber. This is a very timely and thought-provoking overview.
The idea that insecure attachment is detrimental is particularly pervasive and overlooks the fact that a large proportion of the population are insecurely attached but are functioning well nevertheless. From an evolutionary perspective, a mixture of securely and insecurely attached group members might constitute an advantage, see Eindor et al.
The results also suggest that the antisocial leadership style is associated with avoidant attachment. This has been explored within the attachment theory literature too, with concern being raised that people who are avoidant in attachments tend to seek out positions of power and can be callous Mikulincer and Shaver, , As suggested above, we did not develop a composite score for the prosocial leadership style, but refer primarily to the style of coalition building Zuroff et al.
Attachment in adults
Table 2 shows that this style of leadership is associated with similar variables as the antisocial leadership style, but completely in the opposite direction. Coalition building is negatively associated with the ruthless self-advancement style, dominant leadership style, narcissism, hypercompetitiveness, fears of compassion for others, fears of compassion from others and fears of compassion for self, self-image goals, fears of rejection and avoidant attachment. It is positively correlated with secure striving, compassionate goals and feeling socially safe.
In comparison with the antisocial leadership style, where there are clear associations between this leadership style and other variables measured, for coalition building or the prosocial leadership style, these are much weaker. This suggests that there is considerable variation between those who adopt this leadership style.
We then explored the main predictors of antisocial leadership style in a multiple regression Table 5. This revealed that insecure striving, fears of compassion for others and avoidance in close relationships predict the antisocial leadership style.
Furthermore, the results of the path analysis with antisocial leadership style Figure 1 suggest that fears of compassion for others partially mediates the relationship between antisocial leadership style and insecure striving. The threat-based need to succeed in the world, associated with not wanting to help others, seems particularly pertinent to antisocial leadership style. Avoidant attachment and self-image goals have direct effects on antisocial leadership style and fears of compassion for others was not a significant mediator.
In Figure 2 , we explored similar relationships, but with coalition building leadership style. Here, lower fears of compassion for self fully mediated the relationship between secure non-striving and increased levels of the coalition building style. Increased fears of compassion for self partially mediated the relationship between avoidant attachment and decreased levels of the coalition building leadership style. Compassionate goals had a direct effect on coalition building style and fears of compassion for self was not a significant mediator.
Taken together, this indicates that individuals who are secure with close attachments and feel secure in their striving rather than feeling worried about being rejected, criticized or failing and are able to be compassionate and supportive to themselves, are presumably capable of creating prosocial styles of leadership in teams they lead.
Taken together, the results are consistent with previous studies in that we can identify two different dimensions of leadership. One is threat and self-focused competitive, which is compassion-resistant and attachment-avoidant. It is a style that is underpinned by the fear of being inferior, being rejected, overlooked and missing out on opportunities. In contrast, the other is underpinned by individuals who feel relatively safe with others, are more likely to be compassionate to themselves, have compassion goals and feel relatively secure in their competitive behavior.
There are a number of possible reasons why no clear set of measures provided a coherent factor for the prosocial leadership style, unlike the antisocial leadership style. The most obvious is that we did not have the appropriate measures to tap it. Second is the possibility that the prosocial leadership style is far more variant than the antisocial style.
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This is partly because the antisocial leadership style seems so orientated around threat, whereas prosocials may have a number of different goals and issues. For example, some individuals may not be antisocial, but their leadership style may be more of a career path and they are interested in doing their jobs, but not necessarily being particularly helpful to others. It is likely there is a leadership style that is pragmatic, rather than particularly antisocial or prosocial. In terms of leadership training, clearly those who adopt prosocial and antisocial leadership styles will need very different orientations in training.
For example, antisocial leaders are highly threat-focused and if that is not addressed, then they may have little chance of becoming more altruistic and prosocial. Interestingly, Bargh , reviews a number of studies showing that right-wing individuals see the world in a much more threatening way than left-wing individuals.
Attachment in adults
However, the safer and more connected you can help these individuals feel, the more likely they are to have values of sharing and helpfulness. As this is a cross-sectional study conducted with a student population, issues of generalizability arise. Having illustrated these connections, subsequent studies need to look at individuals in leadership positions.
We suspect that the relationships will be even stronger. Here we refer to leadership style , not leadership, as we were interested in the manner and approach participants adopt to manage people. We do not know how contextual these styles are; for example, is the bullying, hard driving boss at work the same with friends or family or even different types of working environment? We also have to raise the issue of measures. For example, new measures could be generated specifically designed to compare and contrast prosocial and antisocial leadership rather than relying on measures that were designed for other tasks.
Currently, we did not obtain test-retest reliability for these traits, therefore we cannot say how stable these are, but we have no reason to believe they would not be stable. We have not explored issues of gender variation, which may play a role. Many other variables that are clearly important in relation to leadership style that are not part of this study, such as capacities for empathy, emotion regulation and moral reasoning, would be candidates for future studies.
Contexts in which people operate may also be areas of further investigation, as to assess whether those contexts encourage or discourage prosocial or antisocial leadership styles. In this study, we had not controlled for this, partly because this is a student population, but subsequent studies with people in managerial and leadership positions should explore the degree to which they perceive their organization as encouraging or discouraging prosocial and antisocial leadership.
Future research would need to clarify this distinction better than we could here. At its simplest, it seems that the antisocial leadership style is basically a threat and self-focused competitive orientation to the challenges of competing for resources and finding status and social position in the world. It is not surprising then that there are often leaders who utilize the language of threat to generate support or subdue dissent and are callous to the harm they may cause.