Attachment theory - Wikipedia
to Bowlby and Ainsworth, attachments IWM, of their attachment relationships. One gets a glimpse of the germ of attachment theory in John Bowlby's article, Without at least one such relationship, development is disrupted, and the. undeniable event, its effects on the child and the parent- child relationship Anna Freud's lasting personal contribution to the development of attachment theory.
An infant will initially form an attachment to whoever feeds it. They learn to associate the feeder usually the mother with the comfort of being fed and through the process of classical conditioningcome to find contact with the mother comforting. They also find that certain behaviors e.
The evolutionary theory of attachment e. The determinant of attachment is not food, but care and responsiveness. Bowlby suggested that a child would initially form only one primary attachment monotropy and that the attachment figure acted as a secure base for exploring the world. The attachment relationship acts as a prototype for all future social relationships so disrupting it can have severe consequences. This theory also suggests that there is a critical period for developing an attachment about 0 -5 years.
If an attachment has not developed during this period, then the child will suffer from irreversible developmental consequences, such as reduced intelligence and increased aggression. These infants were highly dependent on their mothers for nutrition, protection, comfort, and socialization. What, exactly, though, was the basis of the bond? The behavioral theory of attachment would suggest that an infant would form an attachment with a carer that provides food.
Harry Harlow did a number of studies on attachment in rhesus monkeys during the 's and 's. His experiments took several forms: They had no contact with each other or anybody else. He kept some this way for three months, some for six, some for nine and some for the first year of their lives. He then put them back with other monkeys to see what effect their failure to form attachment had on behavior. The monkeys engaged in bizarre behavior such as clutching their own bodies and rocking compulsively.
They were then placed back in the company of other monkeys. To start with the babies were scared of the other monkeys, and then became very aggressive towards them. They were also unable to communicate or socialize with other monkeys.
The other monkeys bullied them. They indulged in self-mutilation, tearing hair out, scratching, and biting their own arms and legs. The extent of the abnormal behavior reflected the length of the isolation. Those kept in isolation for three months were the least affected, but those in isolation for a year never recovered the effects of privation. Four of the monkeys could get milk from the wire mother and four from the cloth mother. The animals were studied for days.
Both groups of monkeys spent more time with the cloth mother even if she had no milk. The infant would only go to the wire mother when hungry.
Once fed it would return to the cloth mother for most of the day. If a frightening object was placed in the cage the infant took refuge with the cloth mother its safe base. This surrogate was more effective in decreasing the youngsters fear.
The infant would explore more when the cloth mother was present. This supports the evolutionary theory of attachment, in that it is the sensitive response and security of the caregiver that is important as opposed to the provision of food. The behavioral differences that Harlow observed between the monkeys who had grown up with surrogate mothers and those with normal mothers were; a They were much more timid.
Attachment Theory | Simply Psychology
These behaviors were observed only in the monkeys who were left with the surrogate mothers for more than 90 days. For those left less than 90 days the effects could be reversed if placed in a normal environment where they could form attachments. Clinging is a natural response - in times of stress the monkey runs to the object to which it normally clings as if the clinging decreases the stress.
He also concluded that early maternal deprivation leads to emotional damage but that its impact could be reversed in monkeys if an attachment was made before the end of the critical period.
However, if maternal deprivation lasted after the end of the critical period, then no amount of exposure to mothers or peers could alter the emotional damage that had already occurred. Harlow found therefore that it was social deprivation rather than maternal deprivation that the young monkeys were suffering from. When he brought some other infant monkeys up on their own, but with 20 minutes a day in a playroom with three other monkeys, he found they grew up to be quite normal emotionally and socially.
His experiments have been seen as unnecessarily cruel unethical and of limited value in attempting to understand the effects of deprivation on human infants. It was clear that the monkeys in this study suffered from emotional harm from being reared in isolation. This was evident when the monkeys were placed with a normal monkey reared by a motherthey sat huddled in a corner in a state of persistent fear and depression. Also, Harlow created a state of anxiety in female monkeys which had implications once they became parents.
Such monkeys became so neurotic that they smashed their infant's face into the floor and rubbed it back and forth. Harlow's experiment is sometimes justified as providing a valuable insight into the development of attachment and social behavior. At the time of the research, there was a dominant belief that attachment was related to physical i. It could be argued that the benefits of the research outweigh the costs the suffering of the animals.
For example, the research influenced the theoretical work of John Bowlbythe most important psychologist in attachment theory. It could also be seen a vital in convincing people about the importance of emotional care in hospitals, children's homes, and day care.
Attachment, exploration, and separation: Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. Child Development, 41, The development of infant-mother attachment. Attachment behaviour anticipates a response by the attachment figure which will remove threat or discomfort". John Bowlby begins by noting organisms at different levels of the phylogenetic scale regulate instinctive behavior in distinct ways, ranging from primitive reflex-like "fixed action patterns" to complex plan hierarchies with subgoals and strong learning components.
In the most complex organisms, instinctive behaviors may be "goal-corrected" with continual on-course adjustments such as a bird of prey adjusting its flight to the movements of the prey. The concept of cybernetically controlled behavioral systems organized as plan hierarchies Miller, Galanter, and Pribram, thus came to replace Freud's concept of drive and instinct.
Such systems regulate behaviors in ways that need not be rigidly innate, but—depending on the organism—can adapt in greater or lesser degrees to changes in environmental circumstances, provided these do not deviate much from the organism's environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Such flexible organisms pay a price, however, because adaptable behavioral systems can more easily be subverted from their optimal path of development.
For humans, Bowlby speculates, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness probably resembles present-day hunter-gatherer societies for the purpose of survival, and, ultimately, genetic replication. These figures are arranged hierarchically, with the principal attachment figure at the top. Anxiety is the anticipation or fear of being cut off from the attachment figure. If the figure is unavailable or unresponsive, separation distress occurs. By age three or four, physical separation is no longer such a threat to the child's bond with the attachment figure.
Threats to security in older children and adults arise from prolonged absence, breakdowns in communication, emotional unavailability, or signs of rejection or abandonment. A securely attached baby is free to concentrate on their environment. The attachment behavioural system serves to achieve or maintain proximity to the attachment figure.
During the first phase the first eight weeksinfants smile, babble, and cry to attract the attention of potential caregivers. Although infants of this age learn to discriminate between caregivers, these behaviours are directed at anyone in the vicinity.
During the second phase two to six monthsthe infant discriminates between familiar and unfamiliar adults, becoming more responsive toward the caregiver; following and clinging are added to the range of behaviours. The infant's behaviour toward the caregiver becomes organized on a goal-directed basis to achieve the conditions that make it feel secure.
These manifest as protesting the caregiver's departure, greeting the caregiver's return, clinging when frightened, and following when able. If the caregiver is inaccessible or unresponsive, attachment behaviour is more strongly exhibited.
For example, whereas babies cry because of pain, two-year-olds cry to summon their caregiver, and if that does not work, cry louder, shout, or follow. Tenets[ edit ] Common attachment behaviours and emotions, displayed in most social primates including humans, are adaptive. The long-term evolution of these species has involved selection for social behaviors that make individual or group survival more likely.
The commonly observed attachment behaviour of toddlers staying near familiar people would have had safety advantages in the environment of early adaptation, and has similar advantages today. Bowlby saw the environment of early adaptation as similar to current hunter-gatherer societies. According to Bowlby, proximity-seeking to the attachment figure in the face of threat is the "set-goal" of the attachment behavioural system. Early experiences with caregivers gradually give rise to a system of thoughts, memories, beliefs, expectations, emotions, and behaviours about the self and others.
Bowlby's original account of a sensitivity period during which attachments can form of between six months and two to three years has been modified by later researchers. These researchers have shown there is indeed a sensitive period during which attachments will form if possible, but the time frame is broader and the effect less fixed and irreversible than first proposed. With further research, authors discussing attachment theory have come to appreciate social development is affected by later as well as earlier relationships.
Early steps in attachment take place most easily if the infant has one caregiver, or the occasional care of a small number of other people. According to Bowlby, almost from the beginning, many children have more than one figure toward whom they direct attachment behaviour.
These figures are not treated alike; there is a strong bias for a child to direct attachment behaviour mainly toward one particular person. Bowlby used the term "monotropy" to describe this bias. Rather, current thinking postulates definite hierarchies of relationships. This system, called the "internal working model of social relationships", continues to develop with time and experience. As they develop in line with environmental and developmental changes, they incorporate the capacity to reflect and communicate about past and future attachment relationships.
This internal working model continues to develop through adulthood, helping cope with friendships, marriage, and parenthood, all of which involve different behaviours and feelings.
Specific attachment behaviours begin with predictable, apparently innate, behaviours in infancy. They change with age in ways determined partly by experiences and partly by situational factors.
A child's behaviour when reunited with a caregiver is determined not only by how the caregiver has treated the child before, but on the history of effects the child has had on the caregiver. This dyadic model is not the only strategy of attachment producing a secure and emotionally adept child. Having a single, dependably responsive and sensitive caregiver namely the mother does not guarantee the ultimate success of the child.
Results from Israeli, Dutch and east African studies show children with multiple caregivers grow up not only feeling secure, but developed "more enhanced capacities to view the world from multiple perspectives. In hunter-gatherer communities, in the past and present, mothers are the primary caregivers but share the maternal responsibility of ensuring the child's survival with a variety of different allomothers.
So while the mother is important, she is not the only opportunity for relational attachment a child can make. Several group members with or without blood relation contribute to the task of bringing up a child, sharing the parenting role and therefore can be sources of multiple attachment.
There is evidence of this communal parenting throughout history that "would have significant implications for the evolution of multiple attachment. And a child's "uncles and aunts" father's siblings and their spouses also contribute to the child's psycho-social enrichment. Although it has been debated for years, and there are tedious differences amongst cultures, research shows that the three basic aspects of Attachment Theory are in fact universal.
The Strange Situation Protocol[ edit ] The most common and empirically supported method for assessing attachment in infants 11 months—17 months is the Strange Situation Protocol, developed by Mary Ainsworth as a result of her careful in-depth observations of infants with their mothers in Baltimore, USA see below. While the procedure may be used to supplement clinical impressions, the resulting classifications should not be confused with the psychiatric diagnosis ' Reactive Attachment Disorder RAD '.
The clinical concept of RAD differs in a number of fundamental ways from the theory and research driven attachment classifications based on the Strange Situation Procedure. The idea that insecure attachments are synonymous with RAD is, in fact, not accurate and leads to ambiguity when formally discussing attachment theory as it has evolved in the research literature. This is not to suggest that the concept of RAD is without merit, but rather that the clinical and research conceptualizations of insecure attachment and attachment disorder are not synonymous.
The 'Strange Situation' is a laboratory procedure used to assess infants' pattern of attachment to their caregiver by introducing an unexpected threat, two brief separations from the mother followed by reunion.
In the procedure, the mother and infant are placed in an unfamiliar playroom equipped with toys while a researcher films the procedure through a one-way mirror.
The procedure consists of eight sequential episodes in which the infant experiences both separation from and reunion with the mother as well as the presence of an unfamiliar person the Stranger.
Mother or other familiar caregiverBaby, Experimenter 30 seconds Episode 2: Mother, Baby 3 mins Episode 3: Mother, Baby, Stranger 3 mins Episode 4: Stranger, Baby 3 mins or less Episode 5: Mother, Baby 3 mins Episode 6: Baby Alone 3 mins or less Episode 7: Stranger, Baby 3 mins or less Episode 8: Mother, Baby 3 mins Mainly on the basis of their reunion behaviour although other behaviors are taken into account in the Strange Situation Paradigm Ainsworth et al.
Group B later called 'secure'Group A later called 'anxious avoidant'and Group C later called 'anxious ambivalent'. There are subclassifications for each group see below. Beginning ina series of expansions were added to Ainsworth's original patterns. They include the following: An infant may have a different pattern of attachment to each parent as well as to alternate caregivers.
Pattern of attachment is thus not a part of the infant, but is characteristic of the protective and comforting quality of a specific relationship. These attachment patterns are associated with behavioral patterns and can help further predict a child's future personality. Some insecure children will routinely display very pronounced attachment behaviours, while many secure children find that there is no great need to engage in either intense or frequent shows of attachment behaviour.
Secure attachment A toddler who is securely attached to his or her parent or other familiar caregiver will explore freely while the caregiver is present, typically engages with strangers, is often visibly upset when the caregiver departs, and is generally happy to see the caregiver return.
The extent of exploration and of distress are affected, however, by the child's temperamental make-up and by situational factors as well as by attachment status. A child's attachment is largely influenced by their primary caregiver's sensitivity to their needs. Parents who consistently or almost always respond to their child's needs will create securely attached children.
Such children are certain that their parents will be responsive to their needs and communications. B1's have been referred to as "secure-reserved", B2's as 'secure-inhibited', B3's as "secure-balanced", and B4's as "secure-reactive".
In academic publications however, the classification of infants if subgroups are denoted is typically simply "B1" or "B2" although more theoretical and review-oriented papers surrounding attachment theory may use the above terminology.
Securely attached children are best able to explore when they have the knowledge of a secure base their caregiver to return to in times of need. When assistance is given, this bolsters the sense of security and also, assuming the parent's assistance is helpful, educates the child in how to cope with the same problem in the future.
Therefore, secure attachment can be seen as the most adaptive attachment style. According to some psychological researchers, a child becomes securely attached when the parent is available and able to meet the needs of the child in a responsive and appropriate manner. At infancy and early childhood, if parents are caring and attentive towards their children, those children will be more prone to secure attachment. When the mother departs, the child is often highly distressed.
The child is generally ambivalent when his mother returns. The mixture of seeking and yet resisting contact and interaction has an unmistakably angry quality and indeed an angry tone may characterize behavior in the preseparation episodes". Perhaps the most conspicuous characteristic of C2 infants is their passivity. Their exploratory behavior is limited throughout the SS and their interactive behaviors are relatively lacking in active initiation. Nevertheless, in the reunion episodes they obviously want proximity to and contact with their mothers, even though they tend to use signalling rather than active approach, and protest against being put down rather than actively resisting release In general the C2 baby is not as conspicuously angry as the C1 baby.
The study also found that children with ambivalent attachments were more likely to experience difficulties in maintaining intimate relationships as adults. The infant will not explore very much regardless of who is there. Infants classified as anxious-avoidant A represented a puzzle in the early s.
They did not exhibit distress on separation, and either ignored the caregiver on their return A1 subtype or showed some tendency to approach together with some tendency to ignore or turn away from the caregiver A2 subtype. Ainsworth and Bell theorized that the apparently unruffled behaviour of the avoidant infants was in fact a mask for distress, a hypothesis later evidenced through studies of the heart-rate of avoidant infants.
- The development of attachment in new relationships: single subject analyses for 10 foster infants.
If there is a greeting when the mother enters, it tends to be a mere look or a smile Either the baby does not approach his mother upon reunion, or they approach in "abortive" fashions with the baby going past the mother, or it tends to only occur after much coaxing If picked up, the baby shows little or no contact-maintaining behavior; he tends not to cuddle in; he looks away and he may squirm to get down. The infant's needs were frequently not met and the infant had come to believe that communication of emotional needs had no influence on the caregiver.
Ainsworth's student Mary Main theorized that avoidant behaviour in the Strange Situation Procedure should be regarded as "a conditional strategy, which paradoxically permits whatever proximity is possible under conditions of maternal rejection" by de-emphasising attachment needs. Firstly, avoidant behaviour allows the infant to maintain a conditional proximity with the caregiver: Secondly, the cognitive processes organising avoidant behaviour could help direct attention away from the unfulfilled desire for closeness with the caregiver—avoiding a situation in which the child is overwhelmed with emotion "disorganized distress"and therefore unable to maintain control of themselves and achieve even conditional proximity.
Ainsworth and colleagues sometimes observed "tense movements such as hunching the shoulders, putting the hands behind the neck and tensely cocking the head, and so on. It was our clear impression that such tension movements signified stress, both because they tended to occur chiefly in the separation episodes and because they tended to be prodromal to crying.