Friday, May 01, 2009

Introduction to Attachment Theory

Attachment is one of the hot topics in psychology of late - well, OK, it has been for a while now. Here are three introductory articles that provide a brief overview of the basics of the theory.

Each article here is followed by a brief excerpt - go read the whole post to get the full story.

Attachment and Bowlby - John Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment

Bowlby proposed a theory of attachment based on evolutionary principles that increase infants' survival through specific behavioural and emotional propensities designed to keep infants close to their primary caregivers and out of danger.

Bowlby also suggested that infants and children build 'mental' models of themselves and of their relationships with significant people in their lives and that these mental models are based on their relationship or interactions with their caregiver(s) over time.

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Attachment Theory and Research into Bonding -Adult Attachment and Infant Bonds

Back in 1958, the psychologist Harry Harlow wrote: "So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in their mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observations, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists."

Since then, there has been an increasing interest in love and close relationships and social psychologists now have access to a wider range of methodologies to help them investigate complex relationships more fully. With this has come a strong realisation of the importance of attachment theory on affectional bonds within close relationships in adulthood.

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Adult Attachment Theory - Adult Romantic Relationships and Attachment

Although Bowlby focused on infant-caregiver attachment, he believed attachment characterized human experience from “the cradle to the grave”. In the mid-1980s researchers began to take the possibility that attachment processes may play out in adulthood more seriously.

Phil Shaver was one of the first researchers to study how attachment status affects the dynamics of couple's relationships.

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