Publication 4542

Petters D. (2016) An encounter between 4e cognition and attachment theory. Connection Science 28(4): 387–409. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4542
This paper explores a constructive revision of the conceptual underpinnings of Attachment Theory through an encounter with the diverse elements of 4e cognition. Attachment relationships involve the development of preference for one or a few carers and expectations about their availability and responsiveness as a haven of safety and a base from which to explore. In attachment theory, mental representations have been assigned a central organising role in explaining attachment phenomena. The 4e cognition approaches in cognitive science raise a number of questions about the development and interplay of attachment and cognition. These include: (1) the nature of what Bowlby called ‘internal working models of attachment’; (2) the extent to which the infant–carer dyad functions as an extension of the infant’s mind; and (3) whether Bowlby’s attachment control system concept can be usefully re-framed in enactive terms where traditional cognitivist representations are: (3i) substituted for sensorimotor skill-focused mediating representations; (3ii) viewed as arising from autopoietic living organisms; and/or (3iii) mostly composed from the non-contentful mechanisms of basic minds? A theme that cross-cuts these research questions is how representations for capturing meaning, and structures for adaptive control, are both required to explain the full range of behaviour of interest to Attachment Theory researchers.

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