Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson (1964) also formulated a theory of attachment based on their longitudinal study of 60 babies in Glasgow looking at the gradual development of attachments; they visited them monthly for the first year of their lives and returned again at 18 months. (Bailey et al. 2008). Similar to Bowlby’s research, Schaffer and Emerson also formulated four key stages of attachment and produced
What is the definition of attachment? If you look it up in a dictionary it explains that it is ‘an emotional bond between an infant or toddler and primary caregiver, a strong bond being vital for the child’s normal behavioural and social development’. That strong bond between infant and caregiver is believed to happen between the ages of 6-8 months although Bowlby (1958) suggests that the infants are born into this world pre-programmed to form attachments, they have innate behaviours in the way of crying, smiling, crawling and cooing which will stimulate attention and comforting responses from the caregivers. These behaviours are called social releasers. Kagan et al (1978)
The development of attachment bonds to other biological figures plays an important role in emotional development. Throughout life, an individual will form several relationships, some of which will be sincere and intimate while others will be superficial. However, collectively these relationships provide the foundation of our communities, families, and friendships and become essential to our survival as a species. A secure attachment bond can be classified as the interactive emotional relationship between a caregiver and infant involving the emotional responses of the caregiver to the infant 's cues (Bowlby, 1969). These emotional responses can be expressed in a variety of forms including gestures, sounds, or even movements. Thus, this interactive emotional relationship between the caregiver and infant brings the two closer together creating an environment that allows the infant to feel safe and secure, further developing their ability to communicate and interact with others (Bowlby, 1969).
Infant attachment is the first relationship a child experiences and is crucial to the child’s survival (BOOK). A mother’s response to her child will yield either a secure bond or insecurity with the infant. Parents who respond “more sensitively and responsively to the child’s distress” establish a secure bond faster than “parents of insecure children”. (Attachment and Emotion, page 475) The quality of the attachment has “profound implications for the child’s feelings of security and capacity to form trusting relationships” (Book). Simply stated, a positive early attachment will likely yield positive physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development for the child. (BOOK)
The four attachment categories that infants are put into are: secure, insecure/resistant (or ambivalent), insecure/avoidant, and disorganized/disoriented.
An infant with a secure attachment style has a natural bond with their parent, where they are able to trust them, at the same time leaving their side to discover and explore their surroundings. In an insecure/resistant attachment the relationship the child has with their mother or caregiver is very clingy, thus making them very upset once the caregiver is away. When the mother or caregiver is back they are not easily comforted and resist their effort in comforting them. In an insecure/avoidant attachment the infant is, “indifferent and seems to avoid the mother, they are as easily comforted by a stranger, as by their parent” (Siegler 2011, p.429). Lastly, the disorganized/disoriented attachment is another insecure attachment style in which the infant has no way of coping with stress making their behavior confusing or contradictory. Through these brief descriptions of the attachment theory, many researchers have defined the turning point in which each attachment definition can have an influence on one’s self esteem, well-being and their marital relationship.
John Bowlby, who originally developed the theory of attachment, describes it as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (Somerville, 2009). Furthermore, there are four main characteristic of infant attachment, proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base, and separation distress. Proximity maintenance is the desire to stay close to the people we have formed an attachment. Safe haven refers to the action of returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety when danger or fear is present. A secure base is a place where the attachment figure acts as a base of security from which a child can explore the surrounding world. Separation distress is the anxiety that occurs when the attachment figure is absent (Cherry, 2011).
As humans, building relationships between others is a form of connecting and communicating. It is a social situation that is experienced every day through the course of a lifetime. The initial relationship that is made is between the mother and the child. This bond that connects two people is known to be called attachment. The theory of attachment begins at birth, and from that, continuing on to other relationships in family, friends, and romance. Attachment is taught through social experiences, however the relationship with the mother and her temperament are the key factors in shaping the infants attachment type, which
Attachments are formed in the very earliest months and years of life. These have a significant influence on emotional development as well as providing a template for the child as he or she grows into adulthood.
Attachments are intrinsic to a child’s development both in the short term and for the duration of their lives. Infants have an innate need to develop an attachment with their mother to ensure their survival and are equipped with evolutionary characteristics called social releasers; physical social releasers such as large eyes and a small chin are found to be more aesthetically pleasing to the parents so they are more likely to care for them and behavioural social releasers for example, crying; very young infants typically only cry if they 're hungry, cold or in pain (Gross 2015 p535) this alerts the parents to an infants immediate need. At around 7 or 8 months of age children begin to make specific attachments for reasons other than survival, children display proximity maintaining behaviour normally with the mother,
Despite the reiteration by Bowlby that the basic essential dynamics of Attachment Theory covered the normative dynamics exhibited by children in accordance with the attachment behavioral system, there are notable are individual deviations in the manner in which children assess the accessibility of the caregiver or the attachment figure. Additionally, there are discernable differences in the manner that infants regulate their attachment traits as a response to the corresponding threats. The individual differences in the attachment patterns only surfaced upon the study by Bowlby’s colleague Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999) (Matos et al. 149-165). Ainsworth commenced the systematic study of child-parent separations upon which she articulated a formal
By responding with care and comfort, this enables for an “attachment bond” to form between the infant and caregiver, most commonly the mother (White et al., 2013). Following on from Bowlby’s theory, Mary Ainsworth investigated the theory of attachment through observing the reactions of infants when their mothers left them alone with strangers. The investigation was named as the “Ainsworth’s strange situation assessment” (White et al., 2013). It was discovered through this investigation that infants who had secure attachments with their mothers were upset when separated and were easily soothed when the mother returns. This investigation implies that infants with secure attachment to their mothers show signs of normal social development.
In the first few months of life, the sole purpose of any child’s behaviour is to survive. This, more often than not, results in actions that reduce the risk of harm and increase the chances of longevity. Of these behaviours, some argue that the most influential is attachment behaviour. “Attachment behaviour is any form of behaviour that results in a person attaining or maintaining proximity to some other clearly identified individual who is conceived as better able to cope with the world”(Bowlby, 1982). Therefore, children will make an effort to stay close to and under the protection of their primary caregiver. According to Webster, “through interactions with their primary caregiver, the child develops expectations and understandings about the workings of relationships. These mental representations of relationships become internalized to the degree that they influence feelings, thought and behaviour automatically and unconsciously” (1999, p.6). Moreover, the response of the identified individual plays a huge role in the child’s perception of the outside world. If the caregiver responds to the child’s needs in a caring and protective manner, the child will feel safe and comfortable in his or her surroundings. If, on the other hand, the caregiver is often emotionally and/or physically unavailable, the child is likely to
Familiar people who have responded to the child’s needs for physical care and stimulation are the child’s attachment figures. Infants form attachments with their primary care givers, usually the mother.