Generations of researchers have tested and used attachment theory to understand children’s development. To bring coherence in the expansive set of findings, the field from 1987 on produced 75 meta-analyses at an accelerating pace. Using bibliometric analysis, I show that these meta-analyses and the research on which these were based are increasingly applied in research on disorder and intervention and research on attachment anxiety and avoidance in adolescents. Their impact on research on parent-child relationships and attachment representations is waning, as if the most important issues in these areas are resolved. However strong the impact of these meta-analyses, they are not and were never meant to be the final word on the validity of theoretical ideas. This is brought home by the findings of novel meta-analyses on an important topic as the intergenerational transmission of attachment (Verhage et al., 2016, 2018). Research synthesis is a primary means for a field to represent its current understanding or lack thereof of its subject. I connect this activity to another development in science that is transforming the credibility and pace of scientific development, namely Open Science. I discuss how the merging of increasing focus on research synthesis and open science has can have broad ranging implications for how we conduct and apply our research. I highlight current theoretical and methodological innovations in understanding attachment transmission, made possible by this approach, and discuss their potential scientific and practical impact.
18 Jul 2019
International Attachment Conference: Science & Practice Over the Lifespan