AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL ISSUE OF THE POLISH PSYCHOLOGI CAL FORUM ON ATTACHMENT
Following the first National Attachment Conference held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, 29-30 October 2015, this series of attachment studies marks the beginning of a more coordinated approach to the study of attachment in Poland, bringing together developmental, clinical and social-psychology researchers with a strong interest in attachment as defined in the Bowlby-Ainsworth tradition (see a summary of the conference proceedings in the paper by Małgorzata Wójtowicz-Dacka, this volume). It is exciting to see how this Polish is progressing to make a valuable contribution to the international literature on attachment styles. We are convinced that the second National Attachment Conference will show even more developmentally and clinically relevant work on specific Polish issues in attachment development.
Five papers presented in this volume represent some of recent areas of interest in attachment research in Poland. Four among them investigate attachment styles (prototypes) of adults addressing their romantic or caregiving relations and stress coping strategies. One paper focuses on child developmental problems viable to affect the course of optimal development of attachment in infancy. Although observational and experimental attachment studies are still lacking in Poland the direction of attachment research seems to stress their importance for the next wave of research on attachment in Poland.
The first two papers provide the analysis of attachment style in romantic relationships. The paper of Greszta and collaborators compared levels of attachment prototypes, love components, and dimensions of sociosexual orientations among groups of individuals whose relationship lasts longer or shorter than a year as well as those who report to be involved in Friends With Benefits (FWB) relations. Although authors indicate numerous limitations of their study, the FWB group was found as differing from individuals classified into the other types of relationships with lower security and higher avoidance of attachment to partner and stronger non-restrictive sosiosexual orientation. Interestingly, although the FWB partners do not commit, nor define their relationship as romantic (as indicated in the literature), the FWB group analysed by authors reported some level of commitment and intimacy to a sexual partner. One of interesting questions that this study may trigger addresses how attachment and love function in this type of friendship bonds and the patterns in which they may be confounded with each other.
Attachment in marital relations was analysed in a relatively large study of Kornaszewska-Polak who tested perceived general loneliness and well-being as separate mediators of relation between attachment prototypes' levels reported by each spouse and their marital satisfaction. The study indicates that mediation mechanisms related with loneliness may work differently in explanation of marital satisfaction depending on whether the level of secure, ambivalent or avoidant attachment prototypes in marital relations are analysed. Results indicate that effects of loneliness may have more adverse effects on marital satisfaction when level of secure attachment is analysed compared to levels of other attachment prototypes.
Another two papers address attachment in the context of parent-child relation. Although both papers do not discuss attachment directly, both seem to shed light on intergenerational transmission of attachment. The contextual model of intergenerational transmission of attachment was developed by van IJzendoorn, (e. g., 1995)¹ and assumes that attachment is transmitted across generations through maternal caregiving quality which develops based on maternal attachment life experiences. The model also assumes that child characteristics must be taken into consideration in the transmission process, and that there is a large Itransmission gap' still to be accounted for.
¹M.H. van IJzencloorn (1995). Adult attachment representations, parental responsiveness, and infant attachment: A meta-analysis on the predictive Validity of the Adult Attachment Interview. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 387-403.
The first assumption seems to be addressed in the paper of Wycisk, who comparing teenage and non-teenage mothers of preschool children found that teenage mothers reported more childhood abusive experiences and less optimal caregiving styles than non-teenage mothers. She also found that the abusive experiences mothers reported were a strong predictor of their caregiving distrust in own parenting competences, helplessness, control, and distance in the mother child relationship. The study indicates how adverse childhood experiences may affect caregiving styles. The second assumption of intergenerational transmission of attachment addressing child characteristics was examined in the paper of Palicka and colleagues who describe children with fetal alcohol syndrome which may shed light on what kind of problems challenging caregivers' sensitivity may limit optimal secure attachment development.
The relation between attachment and stress coping strategies in adult men and women was analysed by Komorowska-Pudło in the last paper of this volume. The findings provide some evidences suggesting that attachment anxiety may be related with stress coping strategies based on problem avoidance only in the group of men but not women. This finding may raise the question of gender differences in attachment styles at least in the Polish social context.
Although all papers of the volume have some limitations and are probably not representative of the whole area of attachment studies in Poland carried out up to date, all demonstrate how currently attachment is investigated by Polish researchers. Even though the papers included in this volume seem to support some well-known attachment concepts and hypotheses explored already in main stream attachment research elsewhere, they also allow to find some culture-specific pathways of mechanisms in the development of attachment styles in the Polish context. They mark the promising start of the new era of a rich tradition in Polish attachment research.