Encarta Dictionaries- emotional bond: an
emotional bond or tie to somebody or something.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary- strong feelings of
affection or loyalty for someone or something.
Svanberg, 2005-“Attachment is a bond which
ties . the mother and baby together. It emerges
out of evolution. It developed in order to protect
us from predators, it is central to our survival and
what we are beginning to realise now is that it’s
also central to our well-being.”
Laura Berk – “Attachment is a strong,
affectionate tie we have with special people in
our lives that lead us to experience pleasure
when we interact with time and to be comforted
by nearness in times of stress”.
An enduring emotional tie to a special person,
characterized by a tendency to seek and
maintain closeness, especially during times of
Is a concept in developmental psychology
that concerns the importance of
"attachment" in regards to personal
Born in London on February 26, 1907,
Edward John Mostyn Bowlby was the son
of Major Sir Anthony Bowlby and the
former May Mostyn.
Sir Anthony was a physician who served as
surgeon to King George V. When John, one
of six children, was born, his father was 52
and his mother was 40.
JOHN BOWLBY: EARLY LIFE
His childhood was typical of many middle- and upper-class
children in Britain; early years spent with a nanny or
governess, then boarding school.
Bowlby did not feel that his own upbringing was out of the
ordinary, although one could conclude that his own reserved
demeanor may have been formed at an early age.
Bowlby attended the Royal Naval College and Cambridge,
where he prepared for medical school. He volunteered for a
year in a hospital for maladjusted children, an experience that
set the stage for his later work.
Two children in particular intrigued Bowlby: an adolescent
loner who had been expelled from school for stealing, and a
nervous seven-year-old who was called Bowlby's shadow
because he followed him around. These two children left a
lasting impression on the researcher.
Bowlby entered University College Medical School in
London for his medical training and after graduating
from medical school, Bowlby stayed on at Maudsley.
Initially he worked with adult patients, but his work
gradually turned to children. His first empirical study, in
fact, tracked 44 children whose behavior patterns
included anxiety and petty crime. He discovered a
common thread among these children: they had been
deprived of their mothers at some point during their
British Child Psychiatrist &
He was the first attachment theorist,
describing attachment as a "lasting
psychological connectedness between
John Bowlby, is widely credited with
having put a “scientific” name to
motherly love and to the widely held
assumptions as to its importance to the
mother’s child. He called his premises
Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children
with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that
continues throughout life.
According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the
infant close to the mother, thus improving the child's chances
Bowlby’s first formal statement of attachment theory
was published in :The Nature of the Child’s Tie To His
According to him, maternal separation in kids can be
seen through 3 phases. These are:
Bowlby: Being attached provided you with
comfort and protection to do what you needed to
do as a child.
Ainsworth: The secure base was the primary
benefit or value of being attached.
*in attachment theory, “Humans have evolved a
built in attachment system that is necessary for
the survival and adaptation of our species.
This research led John Bowlby to theorize that infants had a
biological need for contact comfort (love).
John Bowlby believed that mental health and behavioral
problems could be attributed to early childhood.
Infants are biologically programmed to coo, smile, and flirt to
get an emotional response from the caregiver (attachment).
Bowlby believed that attachment behaviors are instinctive and
will be activated by any conditions that seem to threaten the
achievement of proximity, such as separation, insecurity and
Bowlby also postulated that the fear of strangers
represents an important survival mechanism, built in by
nature. Babies are born with the tendency to display
certain innate behaviors, called social releasers which
help ensure proximity and contact with the mother or
Bowlby hypothesized that both infants and mothers
have evolved a biological need to stay in contact with
Bowlby applied ethology to infants
He was very influenced by the work of
ethologists, people who study animal behavior,
especially Konrad Lorenz and his work on
According to Lorenz imprinting is the evolved,
innate ability of animals to make an attachment
to the first thing they see. This is usually their
biological mother. This provides protection and
allows them to learn behavior important for
Bowlby uses the word ‘attachment’ instead of
Babies have an
An infant displays social
releasers (such as
crying, smiling) which
increase their chances
of receiving care
Adaptive = good
Parents also have an
Which drives the
parents to provide care
Parents are driven to
provide care for the infant
while they’re young and
defenseless – the critical
-this is also adaptive
(increases chances of
genes continuing to
the next generation)
Bowlby suggested that infants make one
main attachment – called monotropy
Bowlby considered that infants preferred a
principal attachment figure for comfort and
security = ‘monotropy’
This monotropy theory has gained support, but
some researchers remain critical
Some writers report ‘attached’ and ‘unattached’
infants and Bowlby thought that without
attachment, we get affectionless psychopathy
FEATURES OF ATTACHMENT
Proximity Maintenance: the need to be physically
close to the attachment figure
Seperation Anxiety: the emotional distress seen
when separated from the attachment figure
Safe Haven: retreating to the attachment figure when
Secure Base: a feeling of being able to explore the
world because of the dependability of the attachment
BOWLBY’S FOUR STAGES OF
Pre-attachment (0-2 months ): infants do not
discriminate one person from another – no fear of
• Baby’s innate signals attract caregiver (Grasping,
crying, smiling and gazing into the adult’s eyes)
• The infants encourage the adults to remain close as
the closeness comforts them
• Babies recognize the mother’s smell, voice and face.
• They are not yet attached to the mother, they don’t
mind being left with unfamiliar adults.
Attachment-in-the-making (2-6 months): Infant
directs signals to a particular person. Recognizes their
parents but do not protest when separated
• Infant responds differently to familiar caregiver than
to strangers. The baby would babble and smile more
to the mother and quiets more quickly when the
mother picks him.
• The infant learns that her actions affect the behavior
of those around
• The begin to develop “Sense of Trust” where they
expect that the caregiver will respond when signaled
• The infant still does not protest when separated from
Clear-cut attachment (6months–3 or 4 years):
• The attachment to familiar caregiver becomes evident
• Babies display “Separation Anxiety”, where they
become upset when an adult whom they have come to
• Although Separation anxiety increases between 6 -15
months of age its occurrence depends on infant
temperament, context and adult behavior
• The child would show distress when the mother leaves
but if the caregiver is supportive and sensitive then
this anxiety could be short-lived.
Formation of reciprocal relationship (3-4 yrs
onwards): understand caregiver’s schedule.
Separation protests decline.
• With rapid growth in representation and language
by 2 years the toddler is able to understand some of
the factors that influence parent’s coming and going
and to predict their return. Thus separation protests
• The child could negotiate with the caregiver, using
requests and persuasion to alter her goals
• With age the child depends less on the caregiver ,
more confidence that the caregiver will be
accessible and responsive in times of need.
Attachment is not an ‘all or nothing’ process
There may be variations, or individual differences
between children in the attachments they form
Ainsworth and Bell (1978) assessed about 100 American
infants and their primary caregivers for the quality of
They found there are different styles of attachment:
I’m ok, you’re
there for me
Most infants (65-70% of
1 yr olds) Freely explore
touching base with
it’s not ok
15% Don’t cry when
When returned, avoids her or
slow to greet her.
Unresponsive on return.
Strongly avoidant of mother
I want comfort
but it doesn’t
10% Seeks contact with their
caregiver before separation.
After she leaves and returns,
they first seek her, then resist
or reject offers of comfort
5-10% Elements of both
avoidant and ambivalent
No consistent way of dealing
with the stress.
FUNCTIONS OF ATTACHMENT
1. It guarantees that the basic needs of children are met, in
return, parents’ needs are also met.
2. It provides the child with a sense of security.
3. It facilitates exploration and independent functioning in the
4. If a person is attached to another person, it focuses that
person’s attention on the attached person.
5. It provides a model and experience with relationships that
then influence the development of future relationships.