Imprinting of Love Attachment

We tend to perceive people who look familiar to us as more attractive than those who look unfamiliar. This is the familiarity principle that also guides our mating, sexual preferences, and love. The phenomenon of imprinting is at the root of this basic psychological mechanism of attachment development in childhood.

The love attraction to familiar people also stems from the familiarity principle, grounded in both imprinting and mere exposure effects

Imprinting as an Attachment

Since early studies, researchers have more likely attributed imprinting to animals than to human infants, and more likely to early periods of development than to the later years of life.

Studies of infants replaced imprinting with the concept of attachment, which has been considered the foundation of love. Initially, it is the love of an infant for a caregiver, while later in life, it is the sexual (often romantic) love of a man or woman for their beloved ones.

Classical Studies of Love Attachment

Among the pioneers of these studies of love attachment were

Harlow along with his colleagues who studied infant monkeys (e.g., Harlow, 1959; Harlow & Zimmerman, 1959; Suomi et al., 2008) and Bowlby along with his colleagues who studies human babies (e.g., Ainsworth, 1989; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1988/2008)

(see for detailed review, Karandashev, 2022a, Ch 3 and 7).

Modern Research of Love Attachment

Further progress in human attachment theory and research on love continued in the works of Shaver, Mikulincer, and Hazan, along with their colleagues. They developed the model of attachment based on the individualistic, middle-class concept of psychological autonomy as a cultural value (e.g., Shaver & Mikulincer , 2006; Shaver, Hazan, & Bradshaw 1988).

Heidi Keller, professor at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, along with her colleagues, developed a new culture-sensitive model of attachment that characterized culturally different models of attachment (Keller, 2013, 2018).

Imprinting of Sexual Attraction

The studies have shown that imprinting can be associated with optimal breeding (Bateson, 1978).

However, imprinting can be both positive and negative in terms of the role such experiences play in sexual attraction.

Researchers have shown the role of early imprinting in attraction, suggesting that childhood experiences can influence sexual attraction in adulthood. The studies have demonstrated effects of imprinting on attraction

Early Love Attachment of Infants

Infants are generally open to attachment to any kind of figure in their early lives. They don’t have cultural prejudice in their attachment and love if they are exposed to racial, ethnic, and religious diversity in childhood.

Genetic similaritiy and genetic diversity also play role in love attraction and love attachment.


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