Attachment is a close emotional relationship between two people, characterised by mutual affection and desire to maintain proximity. From an early age infants have meaningful relationships with their primary attachment figure, the individual they have the strongest attachment to.

Attachments are characterised by behaviours and responses from both the infant and caregiver. These include: reciprocity, which means interactions between caregiver and infant involve mutual responsiveness  such as baby cries, you feed them. Also, interactional synchrony  which defined as interactions between caregiver and infant are synchronized so their responses reflect each other or responding in a coordinated way  e.g. baby talks, caregiver listens.

Maccoby (1980) has identified 4 behaviours to show that an attachment has taken place between the child and the caregiver. Proximity seeking behaviour where the infants will try to stay close to the PAF. Separation anxiety when both, the caregiver and the infants will show signs of distress when they are separated from each other e.g. crying, screaming. Pleasure when re-united with the PAF,  there will be obvious signs of pleasure  from the child and caregiver upon reunited. Genereal orientation of behaviour towards the PAF which means that the infant and caregiver will direct attention to each other  and try to engage each other in activities and interactions e.g. gazing. 


Bowlby rejected learning theory, he was influenced by animal studies and Fraud's work on early childhood. Bowlby's main ideas were:

  • Attachment has a sensitive period: first 3 years of a child's life  when attachment must develop to avoid negative effects.After this period attachment would be very difficult.
  • Attachment is monotropic which means infants only have one PAF
  • Attachment provides a secure base. In most cases the mother is the secure base who provides base for the children to explore the world. The child is happy to venture off on their own but knowing their caregiver is there to return to when needed.
  • Attachments forms our internal working model.  template for our future relationships. The MATERNAL HYPOTHESIS suggests that there is a link between early attachments and later emotional behaviour.

The term Maternal Deprivation refers to the loss of maternal care without no substitute caregiver. 

Bowlby's theory proposed that :

  • Mother love in infancy is just as important for a…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »