Attachment Theory


Attachment Theory

How attachment devlelops:

Pre - attachment (0-2 months) - takes love from anyone that gives it

Attachment in making (2-7 months) - recognises whose is who

Clear cut attachment (7-24 months) - don't want to leave their attachment figures - stranger anxiety

Goal corrected partnership (36+  months) - recognises caregivers needs and shares love

Maternal deprivation:

Bowlby discovered those who had broken affectional bonds and were deprived within their attachment partnerships sufferd long term cognitive, social and emotional consequences. For example: reduced intelligence, increase in aggression and depression.

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Attachment Patterns

Attachment Patterns (Meins, 2003)

Secure attachment:

  • explore within presence of attachment figure
  • marked by positive and quick response to caregiver

Insecure avoidant attachment:

  • don't orientate to their attachment when exploring
  • independent on attachment figure both physically and emotionally

Insecure resistant attachment:

  • shows clingy dependent behaviour
  • rejects attachment
  • cannot be comforted
  • fails to develop any feelings of security from their attachment figure

Insecure disorganised attachment:

  • child behaviour problems
  • no clear strategy to develop attachment pattern

If parent is sensitive and responsive a secure attachment will form. 

If parent rejects and ignores child an avoidant attachment will form.

If parent is inconsistent with the child an ambivalent attachment will form.

If parent is frightened then a disorganised attachment will form.

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Adult attachment

Adult attachment:

Autonomous to secure attachment

  • feel relatively free to choose your adult attachments

Preoccupied to ambivalent attachment

  • find it hard to develop healthy relationships

Dismissing to avoidant attachment

  • doesn't see a need for relationships

Unresolved to disorganised attachment

  • end up with series of unresolved issues relating to people
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Parenting Styles

Parenting styles (Baumrind, 1996)

Parent - parental behaviour

Child - child outcome

Authoritative: (best parenting style)

Parent - sensitive to childrens needs, encourages appropriate autonomy

Child - high self esteem, self control and social maturity


Parent - cold, rejecting, frequently critical of child

Child - low self esteem, anxious, agressive and unhappy


Parent - warm, accepting but over inattentive and indulgent

Child - disobedient, low initative and over dependent on adults


Parent - emotionally detached, little time for child and depressed

Child - anxious, poor communication and antisocial behaviour

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