Frances Nkara & Pehr Granqvist

February 26, 2018 • 12:00pm–1:30pm • 3105 Tolman Hall

 The Role of Attachment in Perceived Relationships with Deities

 Frances Nkara

Religious believers’ perceived relationships with deities likely promote the pervasiveness of theistic religions, especially if these relationships engender or promise attachment-related “felt security”. Specific expectations and behavior within these perceived relationships might be derived from individual differences in implicit, internal working models or states of mind regarding attachment that are based on relationships with caretakers. As part of an investigation of these hypotheses, I will report findings from the inaugural use a semi-structured Religious Attachment Interview (RAI), modeled on the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), but adapted for attachment to a non-corporeal deity within religious life. I will also compare the RAI findings with the participant's states of mind with respect to attachment, as measured with the AAI.


Attachment, Religion, and Spirituality: A Wider View           

Prof. Pehr Granqvist, visiting scholar from Stockholm University

I will outline a book on the attachment-religion connection that I am currently composing as a visiting scholar. The book has been contracted with Guilford and has Dist. Prof. Em. Phillip R. Shaver from UC Davis as editor. I will focus the talk on four reasons for choosing “A Wider View” as subtitle. First, I argue that Bowlby restricted attachment theory unnecessarily by insisting that protection (via physical proximity) has been the sole adaptive function of attachment. Though he did so for good reasons then, time is ripe to consider cultural/social learning – and cultural evolution more generally – as an additional functional consequence of attachment. Second, rather than viewing aspects of religion and spirituality simply as “natural” output of evolved mechanisms (e.g., the attachment system) I will consider how attachment – and attachment security in particular – serves to facilitate the cultural transmission of religion and spirituality. Third, I will argue that “attachments” should no longer be approached as content-based, essentialist categories but rather as functional categories with fuzzy boundaries. Viewed this way, “attachment to God” qualifies as a “symbolic” member of that category. Fourth and finally, beyond organized theistic religion, I will consider the role of attachment in altered spiritual states, non-theistic religions, and matters of “secularism”.