Attachment can be defined as an emotional bond between two people to which each seek closeness and feel more secure when in the presence of the attachment figure.

Characteristic of Attachment

Maccoby argues that we can see that two people have an attachment by watching their behaviour

·         Seek proximity of each other: They need to be near each other, spend time together. A baby will cry to maintain proximity of the caregiver whilst an older infant will crawl after their attachment figure.

·         Distress on separation: A young infant will show distress when the caregiver leaves even for a short period. An older child may miss their parents and feel homesick on a school trip.

·         Joy on reunion: The baby will welcome back their attachment figure often by clinging to them and hugging them

·         General orientation of behaviour towards the other person: both baby and caregiver direct their attention to each other and try to engage each other in activities and interaction.

Caregiver-Infant Interactions in Humans

Interactions between very young babies and their parents are baby led, with the adult responding to the behaviour of the baby. This includes Reciprocityand Interactional Synchrony.


Reciprocity -  is a form of interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual responsiveness, with both parties being able to produce response from each other. Smiling is an example of reciprocity – when a smile occurs in the infant it triggers a smile in the caregiver, and vice versa.


Reciprocity influences the child’s physical, social and cognitive development. It becomes the basis for development of basic trust or mistrust, and shapes how the child will relate to the world, learn, and form relationships throughout life.

Interactional Synchrony - is form of rhythmic interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual focus, reciprocity and mirroring of emotion or behaviour. Infants coordinate their actions with caregivers in a kind of conversation. Infant and caregiver are able to anticipate how each other will behave and can elicit a particular response from the other.


Heimann showed that infants who demonstrate a lot of imitation from birth onwards have been found to have a better quality of relationship at 3 months. However, it isn’t clear whether the imitation is a cause or an effect of this early synchrony.

Many studies involving observation of interactions between mothers and infants have shown the same patterns of interaction. However, what is being observed is merely hand movements or changes in expression. It is extremely difficult to be certain, based on these observations,

This means that we cannot really know for certain that behaviours seen in mother-infant interaction have a special meaning.

Observations of mother-infant interactions are generally well-controlled procedures, with both mother and infant being filmed, often from multiple angles. This ensures that very fine details of behaviour can be recorded and later analysed.

Furthermore, babies don’t know or care that they are being observed so their behaviour does not change in response


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