Psychologists win award for best book

Psychologists, including a University of Portsmouth professor, have won a prestigious award for a new book which expands the boundaries of the theories on attachment.

Attachment theory is a cornerstone of psychology and conveys a particular perspective on emotional relationships, beginning developmentally with mother-infant interactions, and including adult romantic relationships and childcare policy.

Professor Heidi Keller, of Osnabrueck University and co-editor Professor Kim Bard, of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology, were given the 2018 Ursula Gielen award by Division 52 (International Psychology) of the American Psychological Association for The Cultural Nature of Attachment: Contextualizing Relationships and Development, published by MIT Press.

The award, established in 2007, recognises the recent book which makes the greatest contribution to psychology as an international discipline and profession.

Theories about attachment are found in most psychology textbooks, but the authors of this new book have considered broader functions of attachment, and cultural attitudes to attachment systems, to ensure the concepts are culturally-relevant and can be applied to a much wider variety of societies and families, in how they raise their children.

The judges said the book includes vivid discussions and culturally-sensitive re-visioning of attachment.

The authors first discussed the ideas in 2014 with Dr Julia Lupp, director of the Ernst Strungmann Forum, that sponsored the week-long ‘think tank’ discussions with a wide range of colleagues in disciplines ranging from evolution, cross-cultural anthropology, neuroscience, history of science, psychology and methodological perspectives on attachment.  Professor Keller, Professor Bard, and Dr Lupp reviewed and edited the 13 chapters, alongside two external reviewers, and together wrote the introduction.

Professor Bard said: “We are honoured to accept the 2018 Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award, from the American Psychological Association.  We very much hope that this award will be accompanied by greater understanding of the diversity of attachment systems found among human cultures around the world, and will stimulate further studies of evolutionary and neuropsychological foundations of the multiple forms of attachment.”

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  1. This is a great thing. Attachment is a really helpful model for understanding behaviours of troubled children. But has been rightly criticized for cultural specificity that has limited its scope and applicability

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