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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Avoidant attachment and hemispheric lateralisation of the processing of attachment- and emotion-related words

  • Author(s): Cohen, M X
  • Shaver, P R
  • et al.

Studies of adult attachment indicate that intimacy avoidance is associated with general negative emotionality and withdrawal from potentially positive aspects of social relations. Such emotional negativity and withdrawal motivation have been connected in psychophysiological studies with the right frontal lobe of the brain, whereas the left frontal lobe specialises in emotional positivity and approach behaviour. In the present study we used a divided visual field task to investigate hemispheric asymmetries in making decisions about the positivity or negativity of attachment- and emotion-related words, as well as various kinds of control words. We found that more avoidant individuals made more errors when judging positive attachment-related words presented to the right hemisphere. The findings are discussed in terms of possible effects of attachment history on the way attachment-related information is processed in the brain.

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