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Stages of Attachment

❶Psychologists have proposed two main theories that are believed to be important in forming attachments.

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Adult Attachment Theory and Research
Attachment Theories

A response that is unavailable or cold will lead to an internal working model of the attachment figure as rejecting, the self as unworthy of care and others as not to be relied on for help and support Schofield and Beek, A young person who expects rejection and has low self-esteem is likely to signal to other people that they should not come close, which is likely to lead to further rejection. Attachments are formed during the first year of life, even in the context of maltreatment, although these attachments may be disorganised.

The infant seeks comfort from a caregiver who is also the source of fear. As a result, they remain in a state of high anxiety, which can have an impact on brain development Schofield and Simmonds, Maltreated children are likely to have negative expectations of adults and will transfer these expectations and patterns of defensive behaviour into new environments e.

These children may find it hard to let adults come close enough to establish trusting relationships. There are a number of approaches that target aspects of caregiving which promote security. The attachment style of the adult who provides substitute care for the child is also an important consideration. Carers need to be skilled at helping children to manage very strong feelings and need to be in touch with their own feelings.

Young children who are removed from harm and provided with secure caregiving are able to form an attachment to their new carer. Infants who have frequent contact with their birth family may suffer constant disruption to their daily routines and may be unable to experience the kinds of settled caregiving they need to help repair the harm they have experienced. Such contact arrangements can produce high levels of stress for the infant through discontinuity of care and potentially insensitive care during contact.

Download these notes in the topic PDF: Methods Suitable for self—directed learning or reflection with a colleague or supervisor. Learning Outcome Review your understanding of attachment theory and identify actions you can take to support a child. Process Thinking of your current approach, answer the following questions.

Learning Outcome Review current provision and identify actions that can enhance the support provided to foster carers and adopters. Learning Outcome To identify a range of actions that can support a child to develop healthy attachments.

Process Ask the group to discuss the following questions and appoint a person who can feedback their ideas. Back to tabs The impact of early life attachment on child development. Exercise for social workers Download these notes in the topic PDF: Methods Suitable for a small group discussion in a team meeting or as part of a facilitated workshop. Individuals will need a copy of the case study for Toby. Learning Outcome To identify the impact of early life attachment and assess the support that may be required to enable Toby to form secure attachments.

One person may have an attachment to an individual which is not shared. Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity to the attachment figure when upset or threatened Bowlby, Such behavior appears universal across cultures. Attachment theory explains how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.

Attachment theory in psychology originates with the seminal work of John Bowlby Specifically, it shaped his belief about the link between early infant separations with the mother and later maladjustment, and led Bowlby to formulate his attachment theory. John Bowlby , working alongside James Robertson observed that children experienced intense distress when separated from their mothers. The behavioral theory of attachment stated that the child becomes attached to the mother because she fed the infant.

Bowlby proposed that attachment can be understood within an evolutionary context in that the caregiver provides safety and security for the infant. This is illustrated in the work of Lorenz and Harlow Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson studied 60 babies at monthly intervals for the first 18 months of life this is known as a longitudinal study. The children were all studied in their own home, and a regular pattern was identified in the development of attachment.

The babies were visited monthly for approximately one year, their interactions with their carers were observed, and carers were interviewed. A diary was kept by the mother to examine the evidence for the development of attachment. Three measures were recorded:.

Very young infants are asocial in that many kinds of stimuli, both social and non-social, produce a favorable reaction, such as a smile. Infants indiscriminately enjoy human company, and most babies respond equally to any caregiver. They get upset when an individual ceases to interact with them. From 3 months infants smile more at familiar faces and can be easily comfortable by a regular caregiver. Special preference for a single attachment figure. The baby looks to particular people for security, comfort, and protection.

It shows fear of strangers stranger fear and unhappiness when separated from a special person separation anxiety. Some babies show stranger fear and separation anxiety much more frequently and intensely than others, nevertheless, they are seen as evidence that the baby has formed an attachment.

This has usually developed by one year of age. The baby becomes increasingly independent and forms several attachments. By 18 months the majority of infants have formed multiple attachments. The results of the study indicated that attachments were most likely to form with those who responded accurately to the baby's signals, not the person they spent more time with.

Schaffer and Emerson called this sensitive responsiveness. Intensely attached infants had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and, interacted with their child. Infants who were weakly attached had mothers who failed to interact.

Many of the babies had several attachments by ten months old, including attachments to mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and neighbors. The mother was the main attachment figure for about half of the children at 18 months old and the father for most of the others. The most important fact in forming attachments is not who feeds and changes the child but who plays and communicates with him or her.

Therefore, responsiveness appeared to be the key to attachment. Psychologists have proposed two main theories that are believed to be important in forming attachments. The basis for the learning of attachments is the provision of food.

An infant will initially form an attachment to whoever feeds it. They learn to associate the feeder usually the mother with the comfort of being fed and through the process of classical conditioning , come to find contact with the mother comforting. They also find that certain behaviors e. The evolutionary theory of attachment e.

The determinant of attachment is not food, but care and responsiveness. Bowlby suggested that a child would initially form only one primary attachment monotropy and that the attachment figure acted as a secure base for exploring the world. The attachment relationship acts as a prototype for all future social relationships so disrupting it can have severe consequences.

These children form such trust in their caregivers that they feel free to explore, assimilate, adapt, and learn from their environment Hartup, Social support is defined as the amount of instrumental and emotional support made available to individuals from the people around them.

Instrumental support refers to tangible help and emotional support refers to affective assistance. Because grandkin have difficulty establishing and maintaining appropriate social relationships, they may be more susceptible to the effects of stress Edwards, in press, Individuals working with grandfamilies can assist them develop a social support system through the creation of vertical and horizontal relationships that will ease their stress.

Attachment theory proposes that working models of relationships continue to be revised and updated as older attachment relationships evolve and as individuals develop new attachments over time. The most significant development in the assessment of working models of relationships in adulthood is the Adult Attachment Interview AAI George et al. The AAI classification system places great emphasis on the manner in which past and present attachment relationships are described and the overall coherency of the narrative.

The AAI yields four attachment groupings—autonomous, dismissing, preoccupied, and unresolved—which are viewed as reflecting one's current state of mind with respect to attachment, and which map conceptually onto the Ainsworth—Main infancy classifications of secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-ambivalent, and insecure-disorganized.

Autonomous secure adults evaluate attachment relationships as meaningful and important, provide convincing supportive evidence for perceptions of their early attachment relationships, and take an open, balanced, and forgiving stance in portrayals of untoward experiences with caregivers, past or present. Dismissing adults tend to idealize their parents, using very positive descriptors to describe their relationships with them without convincing supportive evidence.

Lack of memory, or providing accounts of experiences that belie the very positive descriptors given for parents, is characteristic of dismissing adults. Preoccupied adults are actively or less commonly passively preoccupied with their attachment figures. In a meta-analysis, Van Ijzendoorn reported that nonautonomous mothers were less sensitive and supportive in interactions with their young children than autonomous mothers.

In this same report, 75 percent of infants had an attachment classification that corresponded with the analogous AAI classification of the mother. Autonomous mothers were likely to have secure infants, dismissing mothers were likely to have insecure-avoidant infants, preoccupied mothers were likely to have insecure-ambivalent infants, and unresolved mothers were likely to have insecure-disorganized infants.

These findings suggest that parents with nonautonomous working models of attachment may place their children at risk for insecure attachment. Attachment theory is highly relevant to the process of affect regulation and coping with stress. In Bowlby's terms, the attainment of a sense of felt security is an inner resource, which helps people to buffer distress. It seems to consist of expectations that stressful events are manageable, a strong sense of self-efficacy, and confidence in others' goodwill, which together evolve in an optimistic and constructive attitude toward life.

As a result, secure persons tend to show better adjustment, less negative affect, and more moderate emotional reactions to stressful events than insecure persons see Mikulincer and Florian for a review. Attachment security is also involved in the adoption of adaptive ways of affect regulation. Studies have consistently found that secure persons attempt to manage distress by enacting effective coping responses instrumental strategies, support seeking , coordinating attachment with other behavioral systems exploration, affiliation , and acknowledging distress without being overwhelmed by it.

There is also evidence that a sense of felt security allows people to revise erroneous beliefs and to explore strong and weak self-aspects. In this way, secure persons could develop more flexible and adjusted views of the world and the self and more reality-tuned coping plans see Mikulincer and Florian for a review. Along the above reasoning, insecure attachment seems to be a risk factor, which hinders well-being and leads people to adopt maladaptive ways of coping. Research has consistently shown that insecure persons tend to appraise stressful events in threatening and catastrophic terms and to have serious doubts about their abilities to deal with these events.

With regard to ways of coping, avoidant persons tend to distance themselves from emotion-laden material and to show low cognitive accessibility of negative emotions. Moreover, they tend to suppress bad thoughts, to repress painful memories, and to escape from any confrontation with distress-eliciting sources of information. In contrast, anxious-ambivalent persons tend to experience an overwhelming arousal of negative emotions and an undifferentiated spreading of this arousal to irrelevant emotional themes.

Moreover, they tend to mentally ruminate over negative thoughts and to approach distress in an hypervigilant way see Mikulincer and Florian for a review.

The above strategies of affect regulation have also been found to underlie perceptions of the self and others. In dealing with stress, avoidant persons tended to inflate their positive self-view and to perceive other persons as different from themselves. Their attempt to suppress personal deficiencies favors self-inflation, whereas their attempt to maximize distance from others results in underevaluation of self—other similarity.

In contrast, anxious-ambivalent persons tend to deal with stress by devaluating their self-view and perceiving other persons as similar to themselves. Their attempts to hyperactivate personal weaknesses and to elicit others' love favor self-devaluation, whereas their attempts to create an illusion of connectedness result in heightened self—other similarity.

As a result, these persons tend to devaluate others. Interestingly, secure people hold more moderate and realistic views of the self and others. Their sense of felt security allows them to regulate affect without distorting mental representations. Both attachment theory and the theory of behavioral inhibition offer explanations for individual differences in the degree to which children actively engage with the social and physical world.

Attachment theory , on the other hand, explains a low orientation to the physical surroundings with the activation of the more powerful attachment behavior system, which allows exploration only during relative security e.

Similarities and differences of both perspectives are illustrated in exploring concepts relevant for task-oriented behavior, exploration, and mastery motivation. The attachment perspective offers some empirical evidence relevant for the development of object-oriented activity, and the inhibition perspective contributes information on stability expectations, especially for fear and negative emotions. The inhibition perspective offers no studies on motivated object-oriented behavior e.

It is argued that future research should pay more attention to complex interactions of self-regulatory and socializing influences to explain motivational development.

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Prospective research is needed examining the extent to which adult attachment styles predict both parenting behaviors and infant attachment (see Mayseless, Sharabany, & Sagi, , and Volling, Notaro, & Larsen, , for mixed evidence concerning parents' adult attachment style as a predictor of infant attachment).

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The attachment behavior system is an important concept in attachment theory because it provides the conceptual linkage between ethological models of human development and modern theories on emotion regulation and personality.

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For example, the research influenced the theoretical work of John Bowlby, the most important psychologist in attachment theory. It could also be seen a vital in convincing people about the importance of emotional care in . Attachment theory is centered on the emotional bonds between people and suggests that our earliest attachments can leave a lasting mark on our lives.

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Attachment theory and research: Resurrection of the psychodynamic approach to personality Basic concepts in attachment theory and researchAccording to Bowlby for empirically examining such propositions and producing a solid body of empirical evidence that contributes to a resurrection of the psychodynamic approach to personality. Attachment Theory (Bowlby) 2 years ago • Child Development Theories, Learning Theories & Models • 1 Summary: Attachment theory emphasizes the importance of a secure and trusting mother-infant bond on development and well-being.