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Attachment theory suggests that we divide attachment styles into secure attachment style vs insecure attachment styles.

What fraction of the population would be classified as having a secure attachment style, and what fraction as having an insecure attachment style? Is there are any data?

If there is any data on the breakdown between different types of insecure attachment style, that would also be interesting. I am most interested in the US or Western cultures, if it is culturely-dependent, but I would be interested in any references.

I found a reference that describes Mary Ainsworth's initial study of infants from middle-class Baltimore families as having the following proportions: 66% secure attachment (type B), 20% insecure-avoidant (type A), 12% insecure-ambivalent (type C). I found a reference to a 1992 study from Fonagy et al. that seemed to suggest a split of about 57% secure attachment, and 42% insecure attachment. Another website reports the proportions as 70%, 15%, 15%. That's a fair bit of variation among numbers.

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  • $\begingroup$ That amount of variation between studies doesn't seem unusual to me. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 4 '19 at 16:53
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I'm not sure why the numbers would need to remain exactly the same; don't attachment style proportions vary across populations? There is some evidence for large variations between socioeconomic statuses, for example. Attachment styles are mostly caused by parent-child interactions, after all, and the prevalence of the secure attachment style is because of the prevalence of secure parent-child interactions rather than some mathematical golden rule. Also, differences in how attachment style is assessed can be significant, since the child's reaction is only loosely quantifiable.

Why do you need the exact percentages, especially since you acknowledge that cultural differences exist? The purpose/problem will determine the method of attack. The main idea that secure attachments predominate because this many parents are generally responsive isn't challenged by any of those statistics.

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Welcome to Psychology.SE. The answer to your question is not that straight forward. You could have a strong attachment style amongst work colleagues but have an insecure attachment style with superiors or parents.

For different types of attachment (insecure/secure) I would suggest reading the works of John Bowlby who pioneered the theory of attachment.

For further reading there is also a book called Understanding Disorganized Attachment: Theory and Practice for Working with Children and Adults by David and Yvonne Shemmings

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