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ATTACHMENT

18 FEBRUARY 2019
WHAT IS
ATTACHMENT?
• Strong, affectionate ties with caregivers
• A source of comfort from being near in times of distress
• A secure base from which to explore

• Theoretical Explanations
• Psychoanalytic
• Behavioral
• Ethological
Freud Skinner Harlow
ETHOLOGICAL
EXPLANATIONS
ETHOLOGICAL
EXPLANATIONS
• Emotional tie to caregiver is an evolved response that
promotes survival
• Behaviors that help baby remain close to caregiver keep
them safe from harm

• John Bowlby
• Retained psychoanalytic idea that attachment has long-
term implications for other relationships
• Infants are endowed with a set of built-in behaviors that
keep the caregiver close
JOHN BOWLBY
• Secure base
• Attachment figure’s
presence provides an
infant or toddler with a
sense of security
• Makes it possible for the
infant to explore the
environment
BOWLBY’S FOUR PHASES OF
ATTACHMENT
Stage Age Behaviors Interaction Interactions
with with People
Caregiver
Preattachment Birth - 6 Signals distress Recognition Comforted by
weeks and need to bring evident interactions
people near
Attachment-in- 6 weeks – Expects Sense of trust; Preference for
the-Making 6/8 months response; does behaves familiar people
not protest when differently with
separated caregiver
Attachment 6/8 months Separation Actively seeks Stranger
– 18/24 anxiety closeness anxiety
months
Reciprocity 18+ Understands
months coming and going
INTERNAL WORKING
MODEL OF ATTACHMENT
• Mental representations
• Of attachment figures
• Expectations of availability
• Likelihood that they will supportive during times of stress
• Of self
• Interaction with attachment figures
• E.g., deserving of love
• Of relationships in general

• Working model of attachment guides children’s


interactions with others (parent, friends, spouses)
DAUGHTERS
JOHN MAYER
MEASURING ATTACHMENT:
MARY AINSWORTH
The Strange Situation
• Laboratory paradigm
• Do infants use caregiver as a secure base to explore an
unfamiliar place?
• Are they comforted by a stranger when caregiver leaves?
• Are they comforted by caregiver when they return?
MEASURING
ATTACHMENT
MEASURING
ATTACHMENT
The Strange Situation:
Types of Attachment
Secure – 60%

Avoidant – 15%

Resistant – 10%

Disorganized/disoriented –
15%
SECURE
ATTACHMENT
• Readily explores environment when caregiver present
• Uses caregiver as a home base from which to explore
• When caregiver leaves
• May or may not cry when separated
• When parent returns, child actively seeks contact and is
easily comforted

• Most common
• 60-65% of children
Secure Attachment
What does it mean outside the lab?

• Parental sensitivity
• Parent is consistently responsive and warm, so infant
develops trust in parent
• Related to better socioemotional functioning in
childhood, better peer relations, and successful
adjustment at school
INSECURE AMBIVALENT

Anxious/ambivalent
• 15% of children
• Cry when caregiver leaves room
• Not readily comforted by stranger
• Inconsolable upon return
• Both seeks comfort and resists efforts
by the caregiver to comfort them
INSECURE AVOIDANT

Avoidant attachment
• 20% of children
• Not upset when caregiver leaves;
ignores upon return
• May prefer to play with stranger
• If these children become upset when
left alone, they are as easily comforted
by a stranger as by the caregiver
Insecure Attachment
What does it mean outside the lab?

Parental sensitivity
• Ambivalent can occur when parents are inconsistently
responsive or over-responsive and anxious
• Avoidant can occur when parents are largely unresponsive
• Maybe preoccupied with themselves, other relationships,
work, etc.
Linked to poor outcomes later in life, such as depression
and behavioral problems
• Early intervention important
DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT

Subsequently identified because a small percentage of


children did not fit into the other categories
Infants in this category seem to have no consistent way of
coping with the stress of the Strange Situation.
Their behavior is often confused or even contradictory, and
they often appear dazed or disoriented.
Secure Amb./Anxious Avoidant Disorganized
Play and Will use mother Clingy/dependent, Do not orientate
Exploration as safe base to but rejects play towards
explore interaction with mother
mother
Separation Distressed when Shows signs of Shows no sign of
Anxiety mother leaves intense distress distress when
when mother mother leaves
leaves
Stranger Anxiety Avoidant of Avoids stranger – Okay with
stranger when shows fear of stranger and
alone, but friendly stranger plays normally
when mother when stranger is
present present

Reunion Positive and Approaches Shows little


Behavior happy when mother, but interest when
mother returns resists contact, mother returns
may even push
her away

Other Cries more & Comforted Typical in


explores less than equally as well by situations where
other types mother and abuse is present
stranger
% of infants 60-65 15 20
PARENTAL SENSITIVITY
In a study conducted in the Netherlands, half of a
group of mothers of 6-month-old babies at some risk
for insecure attachment were randomly assigned to
a condition in which sensitivity was trained, with the
remaining half in a comparison condition
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF
SECURE ATTACHMENT
Better Peer Relationships
Better Romantic Relationships
More involved in school
Effects likely due to both:
• Early attachment (high-quality parenting in infancy)
• Continued high-quality parenting throughout childhood
CANALIZATION
In genetics, canalization is when the same trait happens from
environment to environment because it’s in a rut.
Attachment is based on an internal working model that is
difficult to break.
• A child is securely attached to parents
• Then becomes securely attached to friends,
• Securely attached to romantic partners/spouses
• Secure attachment to one’s own children.
STABILITY OF
ATTACHMENT
Secure attachment style: Have a positive view of
relationships and find it easy to get close to others

Avoidant attachment style: Are hesitant about getting


involved in romantic relationships

Anxious attachment style: Demand closeness, are less


trusting, more emotional, jealous, and possessive
ADULTHOOD:
ROMANTIC ATTACHMENTS
Prototypical Attachment Style Self-Descriptions

Secure: "It is easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable


depending on them and having them depend on me. I don't worry about being alone or
having others not accept me."

Insecure-Avoidant: "I am uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close


relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I worry
that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others."

Insecure-Anxious/Ambivalent: "I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others,


but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable
being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don't value me as
much as I value them."

Descriptions given by Kim Bartholomew and Leonard Horowitz (1991)


ADULT ATTACHMENT
STYLES
• Avoidant
• Characterized as being afraid of intimacy
• Experiencing emotional highs and lows during relationships,
along with much jealousy.
• Anxious/Ambivalent
• View love in an obsessive way, with strong need for constant
reciprocation and validation
• Emotional highs and lows, feelings of jealousy and strong
sexual attraction.
• Secure
• Describe their romantic relationships as friendly, trusting, and
happy.
• They accept their partners regardless of faults.
• They tend to have long and fulfilling relationships.
Hazan & Shaver, 1987
CHILDHOOD ATTACHMENT & ADULT
ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
Attachment Working Adult
History Model Relationships
comfortable with trust, happiness, friendship
intimacy; unafraid of
Secure
abandonment

emphasize jealousy, emotional


independence, mistrust, distance, little physical
Avoidant anxiety about closeness pleasure, unrealistic beliefs

seek quick love, jealousy, desperation,


Resistant complete merging emotional highs, lows