Macrolevel linkages

Attachment behavior offers one illustration of a macro-level association between social and emotional functioning. At its core, attachment theory describes how emotional states such as love and anxiety concerning separation can motivate interactive behaviors aimed at forming and maintaining social bonds (e.g., Bowlby, 1969, 1973). More specifically, attachment theory posits that proximity to available and responsive caretakers during development is critical in enabling children to manage anxiety and distress successfully, a process that will be reflected in a secure attachment style and adequate coping to deal with anxiety and distress later in life. Conversely, early disturbance of this comfort- and security-seeking attachment system is posited to lead to maladaptive social behavior later in life in the face of significant stressors (Bowlby, 1973). Three attachment styles, each with accompanying socioemotional behaviors, have been described: secure attachment is associated with trust, relationship satisfaction, and constructive approaches to conflict; avoidant attachment is related to low levels of intimacy, commitment, and care; and anxious/ambivalent attachment is linked with dependency, relationship conflict, and low relationship satisfaction (e.g., Collins & Read, 1990). As we will discuss later in this chapter, there is considerable evidence indicating that this socioemotional node is disturbed in depressed individuals.

Neurobiological models of motivation and personality provide a second macro-level link between social and emotional functioning. A number of researchers, most notably Gray (1982), have used animal models to identify two distinct motivational systems: an approach-related, positive-incentive system (the behavioral activation system [BAS]), and a withdrawal-related, threat-sensitive system (the behavioral inhibition system [BIS]). These two motivational systems have been found to be useful in conceptualizing human emotional functioning. Indeed, several other theorists have postulated similar functionally independent systems involved in behavioral regulation (e.g., Higgins, 1997; Watson et al., 1999). Importantly, researchers and theorists have now begun to relate BIS/BAS system activity to social functioning. For example, BAS levels have been related conceptually to levels of extraversion and positive affect (Gable et al., 2000; Jorm et al., 1999), two aspects of personality that themselves have been linked to sociability (Clark & Watson, 1988). Similarly, levels of behavioral inhibition have been linked conceptually to difficulties in social functioning through neuroticism, negative affectivity, and shyness (Asendorpf, 1989). Empirical work is lagging behind these conceptual formulations of the relation of the BAS and BIS systems to social behavior, representing an important direction for future research in this area. Nevertheless, as we discuss later in this chapter, several investigators have already begun to examine how abnormalities in the BIS and BAS systems might be implicated in a number of different forms of psychopathology (e.g., Fowles, 1988; Kring & Bachorowski, 1999) and, more specifically, in depressive illness (e.g., Beevers & Meyer, 2002; Depue & Iacono, 1989; Kasch et al., 2002).

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