Attachment Development in a Longitudinal Perspective
Our longitudinal research followed individual children and their families from birth to 22 years (in Bielefeld), and from the first year to 20 Years (in Regensburg). It was presented within the context of international attachment research and theory in 2004. It was thoroughly revised in 2012 (Grossmann, K. & Grossmann, K.E. (2012). Bindungen - Das Gefüge psychischer Sicherheit. Völlig überarbeitete Auflage (Attachment. The composition of psychological security, new edition. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2012).
Attachment research has extended its domain by including biological perspectives and mental representations of attachment in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Research in psychopathology and clinical applications has been added as well as studies in the fields of religion, family politics, pediatrics as well as geriatrics (see Handbook of Attachment, 2008).
Still, there are many areas that are insufficiently empirically investigated. Two of them would have become my new central research topics: 1. How do mothers and fathers speak to their children when they provide meaning to their behavior and feelings in emotionally relevant contexts? I.e. what do their feelings stand for, how are they are used as signals, and how can they be changed during the processes of problem recognition, analysis and solution? How do coherence and incoherence between emotional and linguistic organization develop during the years when meaning becomes increasingly important and predictive of adjustment? Joint Attention (Michael Tomasello) seems to be the crucial situation for such new ethology based observations. 2. Research addressing the question of how feelings of emotional threat in moments of unforeseen challenges (e. g. in school by demanding teachers) prevent attention to be directed to analysis of the challenge instead of being absorbed by the emotional threat.