Attachment Theory: Developing Attachment Relationships
In psychology, peoples’ mental processes and behaviors are studied in order to assist in gaining a greater knowledge of individuals, the reasons behind their actions and the human mind. One of the most integral parts of the puzzle that impacts on development is early childhood attachment. Much research and theories have been dedicated to this particular area of psychology as it is believed that our experiences as young children help shape and mold our characteristics and interpersonal relationships later on in life. John Bowlby, also known as the founder of attachment theory, created a theory based on four phases of attachment. Likewise, Mary Ainsworth has contributed her “strange situation” in order to measure the quality of attachment and developed different categories that describe various levels of attachment between child and caregiver. The theories of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth are two that have greatly impacted and influenced the research of developmental and attachment psychology. Since their contributions, researchers have added on by developing connections between environmental factors that may also influence an individual’s development and explain obstacles of adult interaction and interpersonal relationships.
Theories of Attachment
John Bowlby defined attachment as the emotional bond that a child develops with their primary caregiver. His theory was based on the idea that attachment was an instinctive and evolutionary function in order to ensure the survival of the species. Therefore, attachment depends highly on the combination of nature and nurture. Infants combine instinct with learned behavior to acquire the ability to become aware of, “…continued existence of objects or persons when out of sight,” which allows them to, “…protest at separation and attempt to maintain proximity,” (Blades, Cowie & Smith, 2003, p. 93). Through observation, Bowlby developed four phases of attachment...