Attachment From the first day of a babies life, it starts to form relationships. The attachment begins to develop properly from the age of 7 months. As the child develops, some may begin to direct attachment behavoir to more than one caregiver. These attachment figures are then arranged in a hierartical sense, with the primary caregiver placed at the top, followed by other caregivers such as relations, family friends and other familiar faces.
The objective of this essay is to provide a brief overview of the history of adult attachment research, the key theoretical ideas, and a sampling of some of the research findings. This essay has been written for people who are interested in learning more about research on adult attachment.
Bowlby's Theory of Attachment The theory of attachment was originally developed by John Bowlby -a British psychoanalyst who was attempting to understand the intense distress experienced by infants who had been separated from their parents.
Bowlby observed that separated infants would go to extraordinary lengths e. At the time of Bowlby's initial writings, psychoanalytic writers held that these expressions were manifestations of immature defense mechanisms that were operating to repress emotional pain, but Bowlby noted that such expressions are common to a wide variety of mammalian species, and speculated that these behaviors may serve an evolutionary function.
Drawing on ethological theory, Bowlby postulated that these attachment behaviors, such as crying and searching, were adaptive responses to separation from a primary attachment figure--someone who provides support, protection, and care. Because human infants, like other mammalian infants, cannot feed or protect themselves, they are dependent upon the care and protection of "older and wiser" adults.
Bowlby argued that, over the course of evolutionary history, infants who were able to maintain proximity to an attachment figure via attachment behaviors would be more likely to survive to a reproductive age.
According to Bowlby, a motivational system, what he called the attachment behavioral system, was gradually "designed" by natural selection to regulate proximity to an attachment figure. The attachment behavior system is an important concept in attachment theory because it provides the conceptual linkage between ethological models of human development and modern theories on emotion regulation and personality.
According to Bowlby, the attachment system essentially "asks" the following fundamental question: Is the attachment figure nearby, accessible, and attentive? If the child perceives the answer to this question to be "yes," he or she feels loved, secure, and confident, and, behaviorally, is likely to explore his or her environment, play with others, and be sociable.
If, however, the child perceives the answer to this question to be "no," the child experiences anxiety and, behaviorally, is likely to exhibit attachment behaviors ranging from simple visual searching on the low extreme to active following and vocal signaling on the other see Figure 1.
These behaviors continue until either the child is able to reestablish a desirable level of physical or psychological proximity to the attachment figure, or until the child "wears down," as may happen in the context of a prolonged separation or loss. In such cases, Bowlby believed that young children experienced profound despair and depression.
Individual Differences in Infant Attachment Patterns Although Bowlby believed that the basic dynamics described above captured the normative dynamics of the attachment behavioral system, he recognized that there are individual differences in the way children appraise the accessibility of the attachment figure and how they regulate their attachment behavior in response to threats.
However, it wasn't until his colleague, Mary Ainsworth —began to systematically study infant-parent separations that a formal understanding of these individual differences was articulated.
Ainsworth and her students developed a technique called the strange situation--a laboratory paradigm for studying infant-parent attachment. In the strange situation, month-old infants and their parents are brought to the laboratory and, systematically, separated from and reunited with one another.
In the strange situation, most children i. They become upset when the parent leaves the room, but, when he or she returns, they actively seek the parent and are easily comforted by him or her.
Children who exhibit this pattern of behavior are often called secure. Importantly, when reunited with their parents, these children have a difficult time being soothed, and often exhibit conflicting behaviors that suggest they want to be comforted, but that they also want to "punish" the parent for leaving.
These children are often called anxious-resistant. The third pattern of attachment that Ainsworth and her colleagues documented is called avoidant. Ainsworth's work was important for at least three reasons. First, she provided one of the first empirical demonstrations of how attachment behavior is patterned in both safe and frightening contexts.
Second, she provided the first empirical taxonomy of individual differences in infant attachment patterns. According to her research, at least three types of children exist: Finally, she demonstrated that these individual differences were correlated with infant-parent interactions in the home during the first year of life.
Children who appear secure in the strange situation, for example, tend to have parents who are responsive to their needs. Children who appear insecure in the strange situation i.
In the years that have followed, a number of researchers have demonstrated links between early parental sensitivity and responsiveness and attachment security. Adult Romantic Relationships Although Bowlby was primarily focused on understanding the nature of the infant-caregiver relationship, he believed that attachment characterized human experience from "the cradle to the grave.
Hazan and Shaver were two of the first researchers to explore Bowlby's ideas in the context of romantic relationships. According to Hazan and Shaver, the emotional bond that develops between adult romantic partners is partly a function of the same motivational system--the attachment behavioral system--that gives rise to the emotional bond between infants and their caregivers.
Hazan and Shaver noted that the relationship between infants and caregivers and the relationship between adult romantic partners share the following features: Three Implications of Adult Attachment Theory The idea that romantic relationships may be attachment relationships has had a profound influence on modern research on close relationships.
There are at least three critical implications of this idea.Bowlby’s theory Although the theory on attachment has developed and evolved since Bowlby first wrote about it, the features remained the same.
Bowlby said that . Attachment Theory: Background and Development.
In , at Tavistock Clinic in London, Bowlby published his first paper in family therapy, noting the success achieved by interviewing parents of troubled children about their own upbringing, in the children’s presence (Bretherton, ). Attachment theory is the result of joint and individual research by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth, ).
Drawing on concepts from psychoanalysts, developmental psychologists, psychology, and others, Bowlby formulated the basic theory.
To begin to understand the attachment theory one must first understand and have a clear definition of what attachment is. From my point of view attachment is a lasting, secure and positive bond between a child and a caregiver, a reciprocal relationship.
A Study On Bowlbys Attachment Theory Psychology Essay. Print Reference this. Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional academic writers.
The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28, pp. John Bowlby's Attachment Theory Essay Words | 9 Pages John Bowlby’s attachment theory established that an infant’s earliest relationship with their primary caregiver or mother shaped their later development and characterized their human life, “from the cradle to the grave” (Bowlby, , p.