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ATTACHMENT THEORY. Attachment Theory  Bowlby viewed infants attachment to a caregiver as a mechanism that evolved to protect infants from predators.

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Presentation on theme: "ATTACHMENT THEORY. Attachment Theory  Bowlby viewed infants attachment to a caregiver as a mechanism that evolved to protect infants from predators."— Presentation transcript:

1 ATTACHMENT THEORY

2 Attachment Theory  Bowlby viewed infants attachment to a caregiver as a mechanism that evolved to protect infants from predators.  According to ethological theory, infants and babies are biologically predispose to become attached to each other.  Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (Ainsworth 1973, Bowlby 1969)

3 Attachment Theory  Attachment does not have to be reciprocal. One person may have an attachment with an individual which is not shared. Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity with the attachment figure when upset or threatened (Bowlby, 1969).  Attachment behavior in adults towards the child includes responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s needs. Such behavior appears universal across cultures. Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent- child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.

4 Attachment Theory  John Bowlby (1958) considered the importance of the child’s relationship with their mother in terms of their social, emotional and cognitive development.  Looked at link between early infant separations with the mother and later maladjustment.  Bowlby defined attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (1969, p.194).  Bowlby (1958) proposed that attachment can be understood within an evolutionary context in that the caregiver provides safety and security for the infant. Attachment is adaptive as it enhances the infant’s chance of survival.

5 Attachment Theory  Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969). Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969).  Attachment does not have to be reciprocal. One person may have an attachment with an individual which is not shared. Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity with the attachment figure when upset or threatened (Bowlby, 1969).  Attachment behavior in adults towards the child includes responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s needs. Such behavior appears universal across cultures. Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent- child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.

6 Attachment Theory 1.It’s innate (Lorenz & Harlow offer support) 2.It has a critical time period to develop (one primary attachment figure for up to age ) (disputed) 3.Child develops internal working model of world  A cognitive schema 4.If attachment is not formed, problems may develop latter in life (disputed)

7 Attachment Theory  Babies seek proximity to mother and react with anxiety to separation from her.” (Bowlby, 1973)  It’s emotional: negative emotional influences later life if attachment is not formed within critical time period (birth to age 2 years old) (LO 6)  It’s universal: evolutionary advantages for babies to bound with mothers  It does not have to be the mother, but Bowlby felt needed to be one person  The central theme of attachment theory is that mothers who are available and responsive to their infant's needs establish a sense of security.  The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world & establishes a bases for future relationships  This cognitive schema is called an internal working model

8 Attachment Theory  If child experiences love and affection, the child sees itself as worthy of love and attention  Future relationships will be based on this  If the child experiences rejection, abuse or neglect, may base their working model on denial  They deserve to be unloved  (Learning Outcome 6)  Internal Working Models are reproduced in later relationships

9 Attachment Theory  Internal working model: child forms internal mental representations of attachment relationships of their first attachment relationship (Schema theory!!)  Motivation for attachment is biological, but process is based on experience  The cognitive schema of attachment:  Ideas about attachment figures and what to expect of them  Ideas about self  Ideas of how self and others relate

10 Attachment Theory  If child experiences love and affection, the child sees itself as worthy of love and attention  Future relationships will be based on this  If the child experiences rejection, abuse or neglect, may base their working model on denial  They deserve to be unloved  Internal Working Models are reproduced in later relationships

11 Modifications to Attachment Theory MATERNAL SENSITIVITY  Studies indicate that the sensitivity of the mother plays a role in the development of attachment  Brazleton, 1975: observational studies of mothers and babies  Found interactional synchrony: where mothers and babies imitate each others emotional expressions  When researchers requested mothers ignore babies signals – babies became upset

12 Modifications to Attachment Theory THE INFANT’S TEMPERAMENT  Kagen, 1982: Temperaments are genetic dispositions to respond to the environment in certain ways  On a spectrum from highly reactive to low reactivity  Most cultures will influence (push) babies to certain parts of this spectrum  Kagen would say this is the cause of different behavior in Ainsworths strange situation

13 Modifications to Attachment Theory ATTACHMENT MAY BE TO MANY  Schaffer & Emerson (1964) specific attachments started at about 8 months  By 18 months very few (13%) were attached to only one person; some had five or more attachments  At age 8 months, babies can distinguish between primary attachments (mom & dad) and secondary attachments (others)  Probably due to brain development – visual system becoming capable of making fine distinctions

14 Modifications to Attachment Theory ATTACHMENT CAN OCCUR LATER  Bowlby says attachment has a critical time period – short, fixed, & early period like imprinting  Michael Rutter: Not fixed  attachment can happen later in life  Hodges & Tizard, 1989: found that children who had not formed attachment behavior at age 4 – when adopted, later did form attachment behavior

15 Attachment Theory Characteristics of Attachment Behavior 1.The child strives to stay near the caregiver, thus keeping the child safe. (Proximity Maintenance) 2.The child returns to the attachment figure for comfort & safety in times of distress. (Safe Haven) 3.Reacting with distress when separated from attachment figure (separation distress) & 4.The caregiver provides a secure and dependable base for the child to explore the world. (Secure Base)

16 Attachment Theory  Separation Distress: Kagen, 1978: When separated from the caregiver, the child will become upset and distressed. Develops around 6 – 8 months & last until about 3 years of age  Cultural influence:  Collectivist cultures: Lots of adults – this period is not as intense or long

17  Attachment is not an ‘all or nothing’ process  There may be variations, or individual differences between children in the attachments they form  There are different types of attachment: Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: Individual Differences

18  Controlled observation of children’s attachment behaviour using the ‘Strange Situation Classification’ (SSC):  Mother leaves child in unfamiliar environment  Child is approached by stranger  Mother returns  Looks at separation protest, stranger anxiety and reunion behaviour Ainsworth & Bell (1970)

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20  Three patterns of attachment:  Secure (70% of sample)  Insecure – avoidant (15%)  Insecure – resistant (15%)  Ainsworth suggested that attachment type was determined by primary carer’s (mother’s) behaviour and how sensitive the carer is to the child’s needs Ainsworth & Bell (1971)

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22  Distressed when mother left  Positive & happy when mother returned  Avoidant of stranger when alone but friendly when mother present  Will use the mother as a safe base to explore their environment  Associated with sensitive & responsive primary care  Characteristic of 70% of infants Secure Attachment

23  No sign of distress by mother’s absence  Showed little interest when she returned  Infant okay with stranger and plays normally when stranger is present  Stranger will be treated similar to the mother (does not seek contact).  Mother & stranger are able to comfort infant equally well  Mothers tend to be insensitive or not interested in children  Research has suggested that this attachment style might be a result of abusive or neglectful caregivers.  Characteristic of 15% of infants Avoidant Attachment

24  Intensely distressed when mother left  Apparent fear of stranger – and avoids stranger  Clinginess mixed with rejection on return may approach mother but may resist contact (or even push her away)  Fear of exploration (insecure behaviour) and cries more  Research suggests that ambivalent attachment is a result of poor maternal availability. These children cannot depend on their mother (or caregiver) to be there when the child is in need  Characteristic of 15% of infants Resistant Attachment

25 SecureAvoidantResistant Primary Carer’s Behaviour Towards Child Child’s ‘Working Model’ of Itself Positive & LovedUnloved & Rejected Angry & Confused

26  Does not take babies experience into account  Babies that spend a lot of time with lots of adults may appear to be avoidant  Most children form a secure attachment to their mothers – LeVine, 2006  Time spent in day care does NOT correlate to attachment!!! A BIG issue even today!!  Wartner, 1994: The strange situation classification has good reliability.  A study conducted in Germany found 78% of the children were classified in the same way at ages 1 and 6 years Evaluation of Ainsworth

27  Lacks Validity – Lamb, (1977): it identifies only the type of attachment to the mother.  The child may have a different type of attachment to the father or grandmother, for example  Lamb, 1985: highly artificial & limited in the amount of information  Cultural considerations – Japanese babies are rarely separated from mothers Evaluation of Ainsworth

28  There are cultural differences:  Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg, (1988): meta analysis  Japan: absence of Avoidant, lots of Resistant  Secure attachment – most dominate worldwide  Based on childrearing styles Cultural Factors

29 Factors that promote insecure attachment: 1.Abandonment & deprivation in the first two years of life 2.Parenting that is abusive, neglectful, or erratic 3.Childs own temperament 4.Stressful circumstances of the family

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31 Bowlby’s 44 Thieves  Aim:  To investigate the effects of maternal deprivation on children in order to see whether delinquents have suffered deprivation.  According to the Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis, breaking the maternal bond with the child during the early stages of its life is likely to have serious effects on its intellectual, social and emotional development.

32 Bowlby’s 44 Thieves  Procedure:  Bowlby interviewed 44 adolescents who were referred to a child protection program in London because of stealing- i.e. they were thieves.  Bowlby selected another group of 44 children to act as ‘controls’- individuals referred to clinic because of emotional problems, but not yet committed any crimes.  He interviewed the parents from both groups to state whether their children had experienced separation during the critical period and for how long. (do you see any problems with this?)

33 Bowlby’s 44 Thieves  Findings:  More than half of the juvenile thieves had been separated from their mothers for longer than 6 months during their first five years.  In the control group only 2 had had such a separation.  He also found several of the young thieves (32%) showed 'affectionless psychopathy' (they were not able to care about or feel affection for others).  None of the control group were affectionless psychopaths.

34 Bowlby’s 44 Thieves  Conclusion:  Affectionless psychopaths show little concern for others and are unable to form relationships.  Bowlby concluded that the reason for the anti-social behavior and emotional problems in the first group was due to maternal deprivation.

35 Hodges & Tizard, (1989)  Aims:  To investigate the effect of institutional upbringing on later attachments.  To investigate the effects of privation on later social and emotional development.  To investigate if the effects of privation can be reversed

36 Hodges & Tizard, (1989)  Procedure:  Followed the development of 65 children who had been in residential nurseries from only a few months old. A longitudinal study, semi-experimental design – a naturalistic observation  The care provided was of good quality, but care givers were discouraged from forming attachments with the children (i.e. privation occurred). ETHICS!!  By age 4, 24 children were adopted, 15 returned to their natural home (restored), and the rest stayed in institutions  They were also compared with a control group, who had spent all their lives in their own families. The control group was closely matched to the children in the experimental group.  The children were assessed for social and emotional competence at 4, 8 and 16 years old. The assessment comprised interviewing the children and their parents and teachers and a set of questionnaires.

37 Hodges & Tizard, (1989) - Findings AdoptedRestored 4 YearsNo Attachment 8 YearsNormal Attachment Poor Attachment 16 YearsNormal AttachmentOnly 50% ‘deeply’ attached Conclusion: We can conclude from this evidence that Bowlby was correct to emphasize the importance of the early years, but the effects of delay in the formation of attachments do not necessarily persist into adulthood and lead to affectionless psychopathy, as Bowlby predicted. Indeed, loving relationships and high quality care are necessary to reverse privation effects.

38 Subsequent formation of relationships  Attachment and it’s relationship to adult romantic love (our internal working models)  Hazan & Shaver, 1987:  Aim: Wanted to explore relationship between attachment theory & romantic love  Attachment theory might be able to explain both positive & negative experiences of love  Assumptions: Adult attachment behavior is reflected in:  Beliefs about self, others, & relationships  Their inner working model  Hazen & Shaver’s love quiz – based on 3 attachment styles

39 Subsequent formation of relationships  Participants: self-selecting – 620 (2/3rds female)  60% secure style  20 % anxious ambivalent style  20% anxious-avoidant style  Self description of parents by participants correlated with love quiz results  Lots of criticism on method & sampling  Try the ‘Romantic Attachment Style’ Quiz: 

40 6.4 Effects of Deprivation or Trauma on later development  A child reared in a severely deprived setting will not experience factors such as access to adequate nutrition, sensory and cognitive stimulation, loving caregivers and linguistic input. However – this does NOT mean the child will not develop normally.  Deprivation: living in a state of neglect tp provide basic needs. Often connected with growing up in poverty, parental problems or institutionalisation  Trauma: can be experienced in childhood (eg divorce, war, natural disasters, sexual abuse) and can have long- lasting effects on development.  It is difficult to distinguish between effects of deprivation or trauma – they are much the same.

41 6.4 Effects of Trauma on later development PTSD – left untreated, can show in children as hyper-vigilance, agitation, avoidance behaviours and emotional numbness.  Carion et al (2009) – fMRI scans found children suffering PTSD after experiencing stressors such as abuse or witnessing violence performed worse on a simple verbal memory test and showed less hippocampal activity. Also exhibited specific PTSD symptoms. They also had problems remembering the trauma, felt isolated and had impaired emotions.  Yehuda et al (2001) – studied 51 children of Holocaust survivors who were raised by traumatised parents. Mean age: 40.9 years. Results show children of Holocaust survivors more likely to develop PTSD (33.3% compared to 12.2% of control group) Showed PTSD can be transmitted from parent to child.

42 6.4 Effects of Deprivation on later development  Rutter, (2001): longitudinal study on Romanian institutionally-reared children who were later adopted into UK homes compared to UK institutionally-reared children who were later adopted  Three areas of differences: 1.Greater # of Romanian children with attachment problems (avoidant attachment) 2.Greater over activity & cognitive impairment 3.Showed “near autistic features”

43 6.4 Effects of Deprivation or Trauma on later development  Rutter, 2001: (continued)  Age of adoption a factor – the older when child left orphanage, more problems  But by age six, most children were normal in their functioning  Most children are resilient!!!  Koluchova, 1971: Czech twin boys  Longitudinal case study  Turned out ok – counter to Genie


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