Attachment theory

attachmentattachment styleattachment stylesdisorganized attachmentinsecure attachmentattachmentsattachment theoriesemotional attachmentattachedanxious-ambivalent attachment
Attachment theory is a psychological model attempting to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans.wikipedia
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John Bowlby

BowlbyDr John BowlbyE. J. M. Bowlby
John Bowlby believed that the tendency for primate infants to develop attachments to their progenitors was the result of evolutionary pressures, because attachment behavior would facilitate the infant's survival in the face of dangers such as predation or exposure to the elements.
Edward John Mostyn Bowlby, CBE, FRCP, FRCPsych (26 February 1907 – 2 September 1990) was a British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory.

Mary Ainsworth

AinsworthStrange SituationMary D. Ainsworth
Based on her established Strange Situation Protocol, research by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1960s and 1970s found children will have different patterns of attachment depending on how they experienced their early caregiving environment.
Mary Dinsmore Ainsworth (née Salter; December 1, 1913 – March 21, 1999) was an American-Canadian developmental psychologist known for her work in the development of the attachment theory.

Attachment in adults

adult attachment styleanxious attachment styleattachment anxiety
In the 1980s, the theory was extended to attachment in adults.
In psychology, the theory of attachment can be applied to adult relationships including friendships, emotional affairs, adult romantic or platonic relationships and in some cases relationships with inanimate objects ("transitional objects").

Attachment disorder

attachmentAttachment insecurityattachment pathology
This is not to suggest that the concept of RAD is without merit, but rather that the clinical and research conceptualizations of insecure attachment and attachment disorder are not synonymous.
Attachment disorder is a broad term intended to describe disorders of mood, behavior, and social relationships arising from a failure to form normal attachments to primary care giving figures in early childhood.

Reactive attachment disorder

RADReactive attachment disorder of early childhoodReactive attachment disorder of infancy
While the procedure may be used to supplement clinical impressions, the resulting classifications should not be confused with the psychiatric diagnosis 'Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)'.
The criteria for a diagnosis of a reactive attachment disorder are very different from the criteria used in assessment or categorization of attachment styles such as insecure or disorganized attachment.

Secure attachment

John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth developed a theory known as attachment theory after inadvertently studying children who were patients in a hospital at which they were working.

Interpersonal relationship

relationshiprelationshipsinterpersonal relationships
Attachment theory is a psychological model attempting to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans.

Dyadic developmental psychotherapy

Developmental psychotherapydyadicDyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
Many cultures use multiple forms of attachment including the dyadic model most prominent in Western cultures and allomothering.
Hughes cites attachment theory and particularly the work of John Bowlby as theoretical motivations for dyadic developmental psychotherapy.

Attachment measures

Adult Attachment InterviewAttachment Q-sortattachment theory
There are a number of different measures of adult attachment, the most common being self-report questionnaires and coded interviews based on the Adult Attachment Interview.
Attachment measures refer to the various procedures used to assess attachment in children and adults.


By middle childhood (ages 7–11), there may be a shift toward mutual coregulation of secure-base contact in which caregiver and child negotiate methods of maintaining communication and supervision as the child moves toward a greater degree of independence.
The strongest theoretical and empirical support for this phenomenon comes from research on attachment theory.

Maternal deprivation

Maternal Care and Mental Healthloss of his mothermaternal and social deprivation
In his 1951 monograph for the World Health Organization, Maternal Care and Mental Health, Bowlby put forward the hypothesis that "the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment", the lack of which may have significant and irreversible mental health consequences.
The limited empirical data and lack of comprehensive theory to account for the conclusions in Maternal Care and Mental Health led to the subsequent formulation of attachment theory by Bowlby.

Patricia McKinsey Crittenden

Patricia McKinsey Crittenden has elaborated classifications of further forms of avoidant and ambivalent attachment behaviour.
A set of protocols for classifying infants into one of these groups was established by Ainsworth's influential Patterns of Attachment (Ainsworth et al. 1978).

Internal working model of attachment

internal working modelsinternal working modelTransgenerational transmission of internal working models
All taking place outside of an individuals awareness, This internal working model allows a person to try out alternatives mentally, using knowledge of the past while responding to the present and future.
It is an important aspect of general attachment theory.

Romance (love)

Romanceromanticromantic love
Attachment theory was extended to adult romantic relationships in the late 1980s by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver.
Attachment styles that people develop as children can influence the way that they interact with partners in adult relationships, with secure attachment styles being associated with healthier and more trusting relationships than avoidant or anxious attachment styles.

Peter Fonagy

FonagyP. Fonagy
Psychoanalyst/psychologists Peter Fonagy and Mary Target have attempted to bring attachment theory and psychoanalysis into a closer relationship through cognitive science as mentalization.
His clinical interests centre on issues of borderline psychopathology, violence and early attachment relationships.

Drive theory

drivedrivesbiological drives
However, Bowlby rejected psychoanalytical explanations for early infant bonds including "drive theory" in which the motivation for attachment derives from gratification of hunger and libidinal drives.
In early attachment theory, behavioural drive reduction was proposed by Dollard and Miller (1950) as an explanation of the mechanisms behind early attachment in infants.

René Spitz

René Arped SpitzSpitz
Bowlby's contemporary René Spitz observed separated children's grief, proposing that "psychotoxic" results were brought about by inappropriate experiences of early care.
The film Psychogenic Disease in Infancy (1952) shows the effects of emotional and maternal deprivation on attachment.

Cupboard love

He called this the "cupboard-love" theory of relationships.
Bowbly describes attachment as the "affectionate ties we feel for the special people in our lives."

The Anatomy of Dependence

The biggest challenge to the notion of the universality of attachment theory came from studies conducted in Japan where the concept of amae plays a prominent role in describing family relationships.

Imprinting (psychology)

Konrad Lorenz had examined the phenomenon of "imprinting", a behaviour characteristic of some birds and mammals which involves rapid learning of recognition by the young, of a conspecific or comparable object.

Attachment therapy

holding therapyrebirthingrage-reduction
It may also be partly due to the mistaken association of attachment theory with the pseudoscientific interventions misleadingly known as "attachment therapy".
It is, despite its name, not based on attachment theory, with which it is considered incompatible.

Charles H. Zeanah

ZeanahC.H. ZeanahC.H Zeanah
In 2008 C.H. Zeanah and colleagues stated, "Supporting early child-parent relationships is an increasingly prominent goal of mental health practitioners, community-based service providers and policy makers ... Attachment theory and research have generated important findings concerning early child development and spurred the creation of programs to support early child-parent relationships."
His particular field of research is in child psychopathology focussing on infant-parent relationships, attachment and its development in high-risk environments.

Nature versus nurture

nature and nurturenurturenature vs. nurture
Critics in the 1990s such as J. R. Harris, Steven Pinker and Jerome Kagan were generally concerned with the concept of infant determinism (nature versus nurture), stressing the effects of later experience on personality.
An example of a facultative psychological adaptation may be adult attachment style.

Object relations theory

object relationsobjectobject relation
The early thinking of the object relations school of psychoanalysis, particularly Melanie Klein, influenced Bowlby.
Attachment theory, researched by John Bowlby and others, has continued to deepen our understanding of early object relationships.


Psychoanalyst/psychologists Peter Fonagy and Mary Target have attempted to bring attachment theory and psychoanalysis into a closer relationship through cognitive science as mentalization.
Mentalization has implications for attachment theory and self-development.