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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 review and discuss some of these articles.

During the workgroups (which are obligatory to attend), 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 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


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

  • Quality and presentation of a proposal (20%)

  • Written exam (80%)

(Note that in case of not obtaining a passing grade for the course in the current year, the grade given for the proposal or the written exam can remain valid in the following academic year.)


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 must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Contact information

Dr. S. Biro