British psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings."
Bowlby was interested in understanding the separation anxiety and distress that children experience when separated from their primary caregivers.
What Bowlby observed is that even feedings did not diminish the anxiety experienced by children when they were separated from their primary caregivers. Instead, he found that attachment was characterized by clear behavioral and motivation patterns. When children are frightened, they will seek proximity from their primary caregiver in order to receive both comfort and care.
Attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life. He suggested that attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, thus improving the child's chances of survival.
Bowlby viewed attachment as a product of evolutionary processes.While the behavioral theories of attachment suggested that attachment was a learned process, Bowlby and others proposed that children are born with an innate drive to form attachments with caregivers.
Throughout history, children who maintained proximity to an attachment figure were more likely to receive comfort and protection, and therefore more likely to survive to adulthood. Through the process of natural selection, a motivational system designed to regulate attachment emerged.
So what determines successful attachment? Behaviorists suggest that it was food that led to forming this attachment behavior, but Bowlby and others demonstrated that nurturance and responsiveness were the primary determinants of attachment.
While this process may seem straightforward, there are some factors that can influence how and when attachments develop, including:
There are four patterns of attachment, including:
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