Infant Attachment Theory

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There is much debate surrounding the subject of infant attachment styles and the resounding effect they have on adult relationships. Attachment theory highlights the influence of early experience on shaping children’s conceptualization of responsiveness and trustworthiness of a significant other (Frayley, Roisman Booth-LaForce, Owen & Holland, 2013). The theory also suggests that an individual that is cared for consistently and responsively will assume that others will be supportive and available when necessary (Ainsworth Blehar, Waters & Wall, 1978). This assumption is influential of the way individuals control attachment behaviour and can consequently effect social development and interpersonal relations (Frayley et al., 2013). A prevalent…show more content…
In the Strange Situation 12 to 18 month olds undergo multiple phases to determine their attachment style (Ainsworth et al., 1978). The infant is placed in a novel environment where multiple stages take place including: the infant and caregiver interacting, introduction of a new individual, caregiver leaving and stranger attempting to comfort the child and finally the mother returning and the stranger leaving (Ainsworth et al., 1978). In another trial the mother leaves again and the stranger returns and tries to interact with the child then the mother returns for the final time (Ainsworth et al., 1978). The reunion between the mother and infant and the way the child reacts determines the type of attachment the child has to the caregiver (Ainsworth et al., 1978). Secure infants represent that majority and use the caregiver as a secure base, seek them out when they are absent and are comforted when the caregiver returns (Ainsworth et al., 1978). Insecure-avoidant infants are not dependent upon the caregiver when navigating the environment, nor do they depend upon them when distressed (Ainsworth et al., 1978). Insecure-resistant infants will often act needy and dependable but reject the caregiver when they interact, they do not obtain security from the caregiver and consequently does not…show more content…
Infant attachment can remain stable through to adulthood for certain demographics and individuals. One such study examined attachment security in infancy and early adulthood and found that 72% of participants received the same secure versus insecure attachment classification (Waters et al., 2000). In the study 60 twelve month old infants with White middle-class backgrounds were tested using the Strange Situation (Waters et al., 2000). In the study 58% of infants were classified as secure, 24% insecure-avoidant and 18% insecure resistant (Waters et al., 2000). The Strange Situation was also performed at 18 moths on most participants (Waters et al., 2000). 20 years later 50 of the original participants (21 males, 29 females) underwent the Berkley Adult Attachment Interview (Waters et al., 2000). The Adult Attachment Interview suggested that 50% of participants were secure, 32% were insecure dismissing and 18% insecure paranoid (Waters et al., 2000). The vast majority of participants received that same attachment style and the study suggested that change was owed to negative life events. Although the study suggests that the change in attachment style is attributed to negative life events 22% of mothers who reported no negative life events had children who changed classification and eight participants indicated they underwent significant

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