Beckes L., Coan J. (2015)  In: Zayas V., Hazan C. (eds) Bases of Adult Attachment. Springer, New York, NY (chapter)


In this chapter we review evidence that the distress-relief dynamic is critical to the formation of secure attachment feelings and bonds. Evidence is emerging that threat promotes social affiliation and that interpersonal responsiveness reduces stress. The combination of threat and responsiveness is argued to lead to a sense of security, and repeated over time this builds secure attachment bonds. This process relies heavily on negative reinforcement processes. We argue that both positive and negative reinforcement processes are important for the formation of adult attachment bonds, but that the style or quality of that bond is largely related to schedules of negative reinforcement and the predictability of negative reinforcement. Our review focuses heavily on social, social cognitive, and neurobiological investigations of attachment dynamics and ends with a discussion of how bonding processes might proceed from relationship initiation to form an attachment bond.