Pehr Granqvist, porträtt. Foto: Niklas Björling.

Pehr Granqvist


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Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 36 81
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 14
Room 128
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Right now, I'm for most part on teaching buy-out. My teaching currently consists of lectures on attachment, psychology's precursors in the history of ideas, and philosophy of science at various courses and programs at the Department.

Apart from teaching, my work consists of research on a host of topics usually related to attachment theory in one way or the other.

I got my PhD in psychology at Uppsala University in 2002, on a dissertation which related attachment theory to various aspects of religion. After that, I worked as post-doc, lecturer, and researcher (“forskarassistent”) at the same University. I came to the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University in 2009, as research associate and senior lecturer. I functioned as Director of the PhD program in psychology 2011-2015. I became full Professor in psychology in 2015.

Participant in an international expert panel discussion on "Infant disorganized attachment: The key questions", designed to be useful for practitioners and clinicians. Filmed at UC Berkeley, Jan 2017, and available at:

Right now I'm writing a book manuscript (contracted for Guilford) on the attachment-religion/spirituality connection.


Right now, I'm for most part on teaching buy-out. My teaching currently consists of lectures on attachment, psychology's precursors in the history of ideas, and philosophy of science at various courses and programs at the Department.


Research projects

(1) Attachment and religion

Keywords: attachment behavior, internal working models, religiosity, new age, affect regulation.

The attachment and religion research field is devoted to the study of how the individual's religiousness and spirituality are linked to her/his attachment relationships and experiences. From developmental psychology comes the attachment theoretical foundation. Attachment theory consists both of an evolutionary account of why and how children and their parents form strong affectional bonds to each other, as well as descriptions and hypothesized developmental implications of individual differences in child-parent attachment patterns. Some of the religious phenol mena that have been the subject of inquiry concern changes in religiousness over time, New Age orientation, and different pathways (e.g., religious socialization, distress regulation) supposedly leading to religion. These phenomena are empirically studied in relation to the different attachment patterns postulated by the theory of attachment. We have also focused on the need for methodological improvements and have conducted attachment and religion studies using prospective longitudinal and experimental designs, as well as more indirect, implicit measures of both attachment and religiousness. Moreover, we emphasize a life-span perspective on the development of attachment and religion, focusing on links between the two from early childhood until late adulthood. Apart from the researchers listed below, many bachelor and masters students have been involved in these projects over the years.

Funding provided by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Alrutz Foundation, The Sasakawa Young Leaders´Fellowship Fund, and the Swedish Research Council.

Collaborative researchers include Anders G. Broberg, Andreas Birgegård, Rosalinda Cassibba, Jane Dickie, Mari Fransson, Berit Hagekull, Tord Ivarsson, Lee Kirkpatrick, Mary Main, Mario Mikulincer, and Phillip Shaver.

(2) The neuroscience of religion

Keywords: sensed presence, temporal lobe, religiosity, new age, mystical experience

The neuroscience of religion is an emerging field where spiritual and religious experiences are studied in relation to neurocognitive processes, including different patterns of brain activation. We have performed a large scale experimental replication and extension of a series of experiments performed in Canada by Dr. Michael Persinger and colleagues, who allegedly found spiritual-like experiences (e.g., sensing a presence of someone who is not physically there) to result from temporal lobe activation. In line with their procedure, we applied weak, complex magnetic fields to participants´ temporal lobes to test whether such experimental effects could be reproduced. In contrast to Persinger and co-workers' experiments, we employed a strict double-blind experimental protocol. We also investigated the potential influence of religiousness, new age orientation, and the propensity towards absorbing mental states on these experiences and their interpretations. Our findings (published in Neuroscience Letters) revealed main-effects of personality parameters indicative of susceptibility to suggestion but no effects from magnetic field application. Apart from the researchers listed below, two students worked on their bachelor and masters theses within this project.

Researchers: Pehr Granqvist, Mats.Fredrikson, Dan Larhammar, Marcus Larsson, and Sven Valind.

(3) Adolescent and Adult Attachment 

Keywords: Adult attachment, Adult Attachment Interview, romantic love, emotion regulation

Although attachment theory and research were originally devoted to understanding young children's emotional ties to their primary caregivers, subsequent theory and research have also addressed attachment processes in adolescence and adulthood. This has been done in two different traditions, the first based on linguistic analysis of adults' attachment history narratives primarily regarding attachment to parents (common in developmental psychology), the second based on an analysis of romantic-pair bonds as principal attachment relationships in adulthood (common in social psychology). We have conducted research on adolescent and adult attachment in both traditions, and along three different lines. First, we have studied the prospective transition from parent to peer (most often romantic pair-bond) attachment in adolescence. Second, we have focused on individual differences in adult attachment in relation to a wide variety of emotion-regulation relevant correlates, including eating disorders, drug use and abuse, self-mutilation, and coping. Finally, we study processes of continuity and discontinuity in attachment security from early childhood to young adulthood as part of a long-term longitudinal project on socioemotional development. In this latter project we also investigate the roles of life-events and temperament as potential moderators of attachment-related continuity-discontinuity.

Funding provided by the Swedish Research Council and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Researchers: Pehr Granqvist, Mari Fransson, Berit Hagekull, Gunilla Bohlin, Wolfgang Friedlmeier.

(4) Attachment in children of mothers with an intellectual disability

Keywords: Attachment, parenting, intellectual disability, risk factors, protective factors

Our aim with this project is to gain knowledge about attachment among children with mothers who have an intellectual disability (ID). As several external risk factors have been found to be overrepresented among mothers with ID, the project also focuses on potential risk- and protective factors for their children's development. Despite the fact that parental ID has gained a lot of attention and has been a source of considerable controversy, no previously published study has examined attachment among children of these parents.

This project is undertaken in collaboration with FUB (Föreningen för utvecklingsstörda barn, ungdomar och vuxna), Stockholm Public Health Care Center, and the child and adult habilitation centres at Uppsala läns landsting.

Funding provided by FAS (Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research).

Researchers and collaborators: Pehr Granqvist, Mari Fransson, Lene Lindberg, Kerstin Andersson, Lydia Springer, Lena Palm Samuelsdotter, and Tommie Forslund.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Pehr Granqvist, Frances Nkara. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 35 (1), 142-155

    We consider nurture's (including culture's) sculpting influences on the evolved psychological predispositions that are expressed in religious and spiritual (R&S) development. An integrated understanding of R&S development requires a move away from the largely one-sided (nature-or-nurture) and additive (nature + nurture) accounts provided in the extant literature. R&S development has been understood as an expression of evolved cognitive modules (nature) on the one hand, and of socialization and social learning (nurture) on the other, or in similar albeit additive terms (e.g., nature produces the brain/mind, culture fills in the details). We argue that humans’ evolved psychological predispositions are substantially co-shaped by environmental/cultural input, such as relational experiences and modelling at the microlevel through belief and value systems at the macrolevel. Nurture's sculpting of nature is, then, expressed in R&S development. Finally, for heuristic purposes, we illustrate a fully integrated nature–nurture model with attachment theory and its application to R&S development.

  • 2016. Pehr Granqvist, Lee A. Kirkpatrick. Handbook of attachment, 856-878

    This chapter is divided into five major sections. In the first, we argue that people’s perceived relationships with God meet the defining criteria of attachment relationships reasonably well, and hence function psychologically much as other attachments do. We examine in the second section lifespan maturational issues involved in the development of attachment and religion. These first two sections deal with normative/typical aspects of the attachment–religion connection. In the third section, we review empirical connections between religion and individual differences in attachment. This section is subdivided into two subsections—the first focusing on a “compensation” pathway and the second describing a “correspondence” pathway to religion. We address in the fourth major section research findings and implications of the religion-as-attachment model with respect to psychological outcomes. In the final major section, which is new to this edition, we address the current state of theory and research on the attachment–religion connection.

  • 2016. Pehr Granqvist. Issues in Science and Theology, 9-26

    This paper highlights how the development of emotion is intertwined with the development of attachment. I argue, also, that there are certain central emotions and affects associated with particular forms of attachment, which come to define the self in relation to others. Further, this emotion-attachment configuration is expressed in religion, especially in the religious individual’s perceived relationship with God. I describe pertinent findings from the scientific literature on the attachment-religion connection indicating that experientially based internal working models of self and other are generalized and lawfully expressed in the context of religion. Thus, attachment-related interactions will affectively color the individual’s perceived relationship with God. Yet, God and religion may also provide a source of surrogate attachments, which may aid in repairing negative working models of self and others. Finally, words of caution are offered to prevent misunderstandings of the implications arising from a consideration of how the emotion-attachment configuration is expressed in the context of religion.

  • 2016. Mari Fransson (et al.). Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 57 (2), 108-116

    The aim of the present study (N = 69) was to examine whether middle childhood attachment, measured using the Separation Anxiety Test (Slough, Goyette & Greenberg, 1988), predicts aspects of social functioning (social initiative, prosocial orientation, social anxiety, loneliness) in young adulthood. Insecurity-avoidance at age 8.5 years was, as expected, negatively related to social initiative and prosocial orientation, and was also positively related to social anxiety and loneliness at age 21 years. In addition, insecurity-avoidance contributed to developmental change in social anxiety from middle childhood to young adulthood. Contrary to our expectations, the two security scales were generally unrelated to future social functioning. Taken together, these results extend previous research by showing that insecurity-avoidance is related to social functioning also beyond childhood and adolescence, and that it contributes to developmental change in social functioning over time. The scarcity of prospective links for the attachment security scales points to the need for future studies addressing when and why attachment does not contribute to future social functioning.

  • 2016. Pehr Granqvist. Attachment & Human Development 18 (6), 529-533
  • 2016. Pehr Granqvist (et al.). Attachment & Human Development 18 (3), 235-249

    We seek to understand why a relatively high percentage (39%; vs the meta-analytic average, 15-18%) of disorganized/disoriented (D) classifications has accrued in the low-risk Uppsala Longitudinal Study (ULS) study, using experienced D coders. Prior research indicates that D behaviours do not always indicate attachment disorganization stemming from a history of frightening caregiving. We examined the role of two other presumed factors: participation in a previous strange situation and overstress. Our findings indicate that both factors were highly prevalent in the ULS sample and that they jointly predicted higher rates of D. First, participation in a previous strange situation was associated with significantly higher distress displays during the second visit than occurred among previously untested children, suggesting that prior participation in the strange situation had a sensitizing effect on child distress during the second visit. Second, unless separations were cut short in lieu of high distress during the second visit, re-tested children were disproportionately likely (ca 60%) to be classified D. We argue that these findings have important implications for theory, research, and practice. In particular, we conclude that practitioners must refrain from misattributing the appearance of any D behaviors observed to a history of maltreatment.

  • 2016. Tommie Forslund, Pehr Granqvist. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1-5

    Westen (1998) has defined psychodynamic theories with five postulates: (1) much of mental life is unconscious; (2) mental processes operate in parallel so that people can have conflicting feelings that motivate them in opposing ways; (3) stable personality patterns begin to form in childhood, and childhood experiences play an important role in the developing personality, particularly in shaping social relationships; (4) mental representations of the self, others, and relationships guide people’s interactions with others and influence psychological symptomatology; and (5) personality development involves learning to regulate sexual and aggressive feelings but also the move from an immature, socially dependent state to a mature, interdependent one. According to this definition, attachment theory is a psychodynamic theory. However, Bowlby explicitly demarcated his attachment theory from the drive principles.

  • 2016. Tommie Forslund (et al.). British Journal of Developmental Psychology 34 (3), 371-387

    This study examined the contributions of several important domains of functioning to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and conduct problems. Specifically, we investigated whether cognitive inhibition, emotion regulation, emotionality, and disorganized attachment made independent and specific contributions to these externalizing behaviour problems from a multiple pathways perspective. The study included laboratory measures of cognitive inhibition and disorganized attachment in 184 typically developing children (M age = 6 years, 10 months, SD = 1.7). Parental ratings provided measures of emotion regulation, emotionality, and externalizing behaviour problems. Results revealed that cognitive inhibition, regulation of positive emotion, and positive emotionality were independently and specifically related to ADHD symptoms. Disorganized attachment and negative emotionality formed independent and specific relations to conduct problems. Our findings support the multiple pathways perspective on ADHD, with poor regulation of positive emotion and high positive emotionality making distinct contributions to ADHD symptoms. More specifically, our results support the proposal of a temperamentally based pathway to ADHD symptoms. The findings also indicate that disorganized attachment and negative emotionality constitute pathways specific to conduct problems rather than to ADHD symptoms.

  • 2016. Tord Ivarsson (et al.). Child Psychiatry and Human Development 47 (2), 270-280

    We investigated whether adverse attachment experience might contribute to the development of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). We interviewed 100 adolescents, 25 each with primary OCD, depressive disorder (DD), OCD plus DD and general population controls (CTRs) using the adult attachment interview to assess attachment experiences (AEs), including traumatic and adverse AE (TAE). Adolescents with OCD, OCD+DD and DD had little evidence of secure base/safe haven parental behaviour and their childhood attachment needs judged to be rejected as compared to the controls. Overprotection was not characteristic of OCD, and parents using the child for their own needs (elevated levels of involving/role reversal) occurred only in DD, with low levels in OCD, OCD+DD and CTR. Traumatic experiences, often multiple, and/or attachment related were reported significantly more often in the DD group, and was less common in OCD+DD, CTR and particularly in the OCD group. In OCD, little TAE was reported and adverse AE were less serious and seem unlikely to contribute directly to OCD aetiology. In DD and to some degree in OCD+DD serious AE/TAE may have some etiological significance for the depressive states.

Show all publications by Pehr Granqvist at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 16, 2017

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