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Attachment, parenting and development: research and clinical implications


Admission requirements



This course concerns the state of the art of attachment theory and research. It consists of lectures and workgroups. During the lectures, current research related to themes such as “attachment across the life span”, “cross-cultural patterns of attachment”, “biological, neural and genetic underpinnings of attachment” will be discussed.

Students will have the chance to get “a look behind the scenes” in studies that have recently been conducted (or are currently going on) at the Leiden Institute of Education and Child Studies. The Handbook of Attachment and recent articles that have been published in international scientific journals will be used. Students need to fill in a review form regarding the article that will be discussed.

During the workgroups, students will learn about various instruments assessing attachment. Furthermore, students will develop a research proposal or a research/clinical tool. For the research proposal, students will aim to formulate an unanswered research question and define a series of possible hypotheses, and an adequate study design. For the research/clinical tool, students will aim to design a feasible tool with a specific research or clinical/applied focus and will describe how to test the validity of their planned tool. The proposal is presented by means of a PowerPoint presentation.

The course is completed with an exam. The exam will cover topics that are discussed in the handbook and that have been presented or discussed during the lectures.

Course objectives

  • A thorough knowledge and understanding of attachment and life history theories based on the Handbook of Attachment, and of methodological approaches which are used in the papers

  • Developing a proposal, showing the capacity to apply various theoretical frameworks, and the ability of critically selecting, studying and analyzing literature relevant to the issue, collaborating with others

  • Reviewing recent papers and showing the ability to engage in the international academic debate as well as to consider practical implications

  • Orally presenting a proposal and defend it in a discussion


Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

  • Quality and presentation of a proposal (20%)

  • Written exam (80%)


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

  • Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P. R. (Eds.), (2016). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York: The Guilford Press, third edition.

  • Recent articles (links will be made available on Brightspace)



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

Contact information

Dr. S. Biro