326 Attachment, Security & Compassionate Helping

Researched by Milulincer, Mario., Shaver, Phillip. R., Gillath, Omri., & Nitzberg, Rachel. A. (2005).

Written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Bowlby, a noted psychologist, proposes a theory of attachment that suggests that a person’s temperament and attachment is related to helping and compassion for others.

To test this theory, researchers conducted a series of 5 stress-inducing experiments in both Israel and the U.S. to see if increasing a person’s security and feelings of attachment to others, would increase their compassion and altruistic behaviors. Researchers elicited attachment security by showing participants names of people previously identified as those who provide a safe haven or secure base for them; in the nonattachment condition, participants were presented random stranger names.

When participants felt secure, they took on extra work to help someone needy, and demonstrated greater compassion and helpfulness even when they experienced neither material nor emotional benefit. They also expressed willingness to help both their families as well as acquaintances. In all experiments, avoiding or having anxiety about attachment was related to distress and to not helping others.

Overall, creating feelings of attachment and security led people to greater compassion and willingness to help those in distress. Let’s help all children and peoples around the world and here at home feel safe and secure to create world peace, altruism, and cooperativeness.


Milulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., Gillath, O., & Nitzberg, R. A. (2005). Attachment, Caregiving, and Altruism: Boosting Attachment

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