Coregulation, dysregulation, self-regulation: An integrative analysis and empirical agenda for understanding adult attachment, separation, loss, and recovery

David A Sbarra, Cindy Hazan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

202 Scopus citations


An integrative framework is proposed for understanding how multiple biological and psychological systems are regulated in the context of adult attachment relationships, dysregulated by separation and loss experiences, and, potentially, re-regulated through individual recovery efforts. Evidence is reviewed for a coregulatory model of normative attachment, defined as a pattern of interwoven physiology between romantic partners that results from the conditioning of biological reward systems and the emergence of felt security within adult pair bonds. The loss of coregulation can portend a state of biobehavioral dysregulation, ranging from diffuse psychophysiological arousal and disorganization to a full-blown (and highly organized) stress response. The major task for successful recovery is adopting a self-regulatory strategy that attenuates the dysregulating effects of the attachment disruption. Research evidence is reviewed across multiple levels of analysis, and the article concludes with a series of testable research questions on the interconnected nature of attachment, loss, and recovery processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-167
Number of pages27
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2008



  • Adult attachment
  • Coregulation
  • Cytokines
  • Loss
  • Oxytocin
  • Psychophysiology
  • Recovery
  • Separation
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology

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