Definition• John Bowlby (the first attachment theorist) :“To say of a child (or older person) that he is attached to, or has an attachment to, someone means that he is strongly disposed to seek proximity to and contact with the that individual and to do so especially in certain specified conditions.”
Theory Origin• John Bowlby first formulated the attachment theory after he wrote a pamphlet on the homeless and orphaned children of WW2.• During the 1970’s, Mary Ainsworth expanded greatly upon Bowlby’s work.• Ideas now guiding attachment theory joint work of Bowlby and Ainsworth (Ainsworth and Bowlby, 1991)• Both (directly or indirectly) were influenced by Freud and other psychoanalytic thinkers.
John Bowlby• Bowlby’s first formal statement of attachment theory was published in: The Nature of the Child’s Tie to His Mother (1958)• According to him, maternal separation in kids can be seen through 3 phases. These are: – Protest – Despair – Detachment
John Bowlby• Protest involves demonstration of distress at separation and attempts to regain her by crying loudly, throwing oneself around etc.• Despair is the “quiet” stage in which the child is in a state of mourning and is withdrawn and undermining. Intermittent or monotonous crying may occur.• Detachment is considered a sign of recovery as the child shows more interested in the environment. When the mother visits, the child shows no interest in her and may turn away.
Attachment Theory• Childs first relationship is a love relationship that will have profound long-lasting effects on an individuals subsequent development.• Mothers(Caregivers) who are available and responsive to their infants needs establish a sense of security in their children. Infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.• Attachments should lay a good foundation for being able to form other secure relationships
Components of Attachment• Safe Haven: When the child feel threatened or afraid, he or she can return to the caregiver for comfort and soothing.• Secure Base: The caregiver provides a secure and dependable base for the child to explore the world.• Proximity Maintenance: The child strives to stay near the caregiver, thus keeping the child safe.• Separation Distress: When separated from the caregiver, the child will become upset and distressed.
Mary Ainsworth• Ainsworth described three major styles of attachment in children: – Secure Attachment: Exhibit distress when separated from caregivers. Feel secure and able to depend on their adult caregivers. When frightened, securely attached children will seek comfort from caregivers. – Ambivalent Attachment: Usually become very distressed when a parent leaves. Relatively uncommon style. Cannot depend on their mother (or caregiver) to be there when in need. – Avoidant Attachment: Tend to avoid parents or caregivers. When offered a choice, will show no preference between a caregiver and a complete stranger.
Attachment in Adults• Attachment theory was extended to adult relationships in the late 1980s by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver• Roughly correspond to infant classifications: – Secure – Insecure Avoidant – Insecure Ambivalent
Survey• Secure : I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I dont often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too friendly to me.• Insecure Ambivalent : I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I want to get involved completely with another person, and this thought sometimes scares people away.• Insecure Avoidant : I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close.
Survey Results• 50 students were asked to point out the category they would fall in. These were the results: 38.46% 46.15% Secure Ambivalent 15.38% Avoidant
Parental and Peer Attachment Study• Paper: A cross cultural comparison of parental and peer attachment styles among adult children from the United states, Puerto Rico, and India (Pearson and Child, 2007). – Investigates parental and peer attachment among people from the USA, Puerto Rico and India – 50 participants from the USA(avg. age-23), 36 from Puerto Rico(avg. age-29.7) and 96 from India(avg. age-20.3) – Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment(IPPA) (Armsden and Greenberg, 1987) used to measure mother, father and peer attachment.
Study Results• Puerto Rican participants reflected a significantly weaker overall attachment to their mothers in comparison to both US and Indian participants• Participants from India reflected a significantly stronger attachment to their fathers in comparison to Puerto Rican and US participants.• US participants maintained stronger attachment to their peers in comparison to participants from India.
Study Analysis• Investigation suggests tenets of attachment theory not culturally universal• College students revealed different attachment patterns based on different countries of origin.• Differences may be linked to cultural divergence (collectivism versus individualism)
Study Analysis• Less attachment of Puerto Rican participants to their mothers is ascribed to their macho culture where men are viewed superior to women• Indian participants were more strongly attached to their fathers because they tend to be patriarchal. Father seen as head of family. Moreover, both Hindu and Muslim religions have strong masculinist leanings• Participants from the United States were more attached to their peers because of its individualistic culture in which relationships with peers is favoured over family members as compared to collectivistic culture of India.
Attachment and Self-Image• Attachment to parents has stronger impact on adolescent’s self-esteem than peer attachment (Armsden and Greenberg, 1987)• Hay and Ashman (2003) found the relationship with parents and same-sex peer relationships had significant influence on the formation of the self-concept of males but not of females.
Attachment and Academic Performance• Parental and Peer support had a positive relationship with academic performance. (Fass and Tubman, 2002)• Parental attachment plays an important role in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood• But low attachment to both parents and peers did not automatically place students at risk for academic failure or social incompetence. There are other factors too.
Applications• Attachment theory has implications and applications mainly for the welfare and care of children• Child Care Policies: – Driving force of Bowlby’s development of attachment theory: the care of children – Significant policy implications for hospitalised or institutionalised children – Applications when foster parents adopt foster children – Can inform decisions made in social work and court processes about foster care
Applications• Clinical practice in children: – Increase the responsiveness and sensitivity of the caregiver for better attachment, and if possible change the caregiver. – Introduction to affectionate and sensitive caregiver can be helpful for insecurely attached infant in his/her development.
Sources• Bretherton, I(1992). The origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.• Judy Pearson and Jeffrey Child(2007). A Cross Cultural Comparison of Parental and Peer Attachment Styles among Adult Children from the United States, Puerto Rico, and India• http://psychology.about.com/od/loveandattraction/a/attachment01. htm• Rutter M (2008). "Implications of Attachment Theory and Research for Child Care Policies". In Cassidy J, Shaver PR. Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research and Clinical Applications. New York and London: Guilford Press. pp. 958–74