Attachment Style and Consumer Tech

Hello my fellow thinkers. Last week we talked about psychological entropy. I've been digging deeper into how our young brains develop strategies to minimize entropy. Many of these strategies live with us everyday. Which leads me to this weeks topic: attachment theory.

Some of you will know this concept from your own psychology knowledge/training or because you've been in therapy dealing with your specific attachment style (oh so fun). The first time I learned about it I was v focused on understanding what this meant personally. But 3 years later, I am now a healthy distance from it to dive into depths of the literature. (will ask my therapist if this is healthy intellectualization?)

Attachment style develops when we are helpless and dependent lil creatures. Our brains build their first predictive model to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety. We feel vulnerable since we depend on our caregivers to meet our basic physiological needs. Psychologist John Bowlby proposed a series of if/then questions that we go through in those early days.

Over time, we develop predictive mental models (in attempts to minimize psychological entropy) of others and of ourselves based on past experiences with our caregivers. This results in four adult categories of attachment styles: secure, fearful, preoccupied and dismissive. These four styles are not stagnant but a combination of two dimensions 1) anxious and 2) avoidant. Scott Barry Kaufman explained it really well in his last book:

  • "The anxious-attachment dimension reflects a concern about being rejected and abandoned and is the product of beliefs about whether others will be there for you in times of need.
  • The avoidant-attachment dimension has less to do with a sense of safety and more to do with how you regulate your emotions in response to stress—whether you use others as a secure base or pull away and withdraw from them."

I added my own for shits and giggles. Started from the bottom now we here. Anyways, attachment style is one of the most central parts of every individual’s psychology. Regardless if they believe in mental health or not. I will continue digging but a couple of questions came up:

  • Does attachment style impact customer acquisition strategies? Found some studies on how consensus claims in advertisement don't work well for higher on anxious dimension type.
  • How does this play out in social networks? One study says "people high on attachment anxiety or avoidance had weaker tie strength (how close the ties in your networks are) and people high on avoidance reported lower multiplexity (how many roles are filled or functions are served by network members).