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Neurobiological Factors Underlying Attachment and Trust in the Believing Process

  • Corina Aguilar-Raab
  • Beate Ditzen
Chapter
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 1)

Abstract

Credition – the cognitive process of believing – is embedded in a social-interactional framework. As soon as an individual becomes involved in a process of believing, he or she engages in motivational, cognitive, and affective processes based on the contact with and perception of an object of belief and the “community of believers” or “in-group members”. Social cognition and social behaviour are the major constituents of these interactional processes. Apparently, attachment and trust – which are crucial for healthy outcomes throughout the lifespan – are strongly associated with one another. Psychobiological processes are important underlying factors that are entangled with the social-interactional dimension of credition. In social neuroscience , current research of the neuroendocrine system has primarily focused on the neuropeptides Oxytocin (OT) and Vasopressin (VP) as they have important regulatory functions when people engage in social interactions. For example, OT stimulates the motivation to develop an attachment to someone and increases qualities like trust. The effects are dependent on the influences of stress, as chronic and traumatic stress inhibits the motivation to attach while low levels of stress foster bonding behavior. In contrast, VP seems to be involved with increased vigilance, arousal, activation, and anxiety, which are required aspects of the flight-fight mechanism. Interestingly, whether OT and VP are associated with positive or negative social cognition and behavior depends on the (social) context and other contributing factors. We conclude that attachment and trust are important factors in the believing process. Combined with cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes, these factors influence behavior towards ourselves and others, which is in turn strongly influences neuroendocrine functions. Attachment and trust and their associated neurobiological foundations are reciprocally associated. Hence, a continuation of scientific progress needs to take place in order to produce more complex, high-quality, multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approaches. Only then will we be able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of these mechanisms and how we can effectively foster positive changes of social interactions related to health and well-being.

Keywords

Autism Spectrum Disorder Attachment Style Social Neuroscience Neurobiological Factor Intranasal Oxytocin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Medical Psychology, Center for Psychosocial Medicine (ZPM)University Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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