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PSYC 332 Lecture Notes - John Bowlby, Absolute Difference, Developmental Disability

Course Code
PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

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Lecture 8: January 24, 2011
Attachment from Infancy to Adulthood
Question of the day:
Are our current relationships influenced by the kind of attachment we had with
our mother (and father) as infants?
oTheory that suggests in the first 2 years of life we develop a working
model of how close relationships work (develop beliefs and expectancies
if close others are reliable, responsive etc)
oThis early working model can be a template for what we expect late for
close others in relationships
Describe provocative finding of Hazen & Shaver 1987:
in this study they used the worst absolute difference manner
they started off very simply
describe 3 ways you may be attached and then ask..
use self categorization to predict outcomes and how you recollected your experiences
with your mom when you were very young
Which of the following best describes your feelings?
I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on
them and having them depend on me. I don't often worry about being abandoned
or about someone getting too close to me.
oComfortable and at ease in romantic relationship, indicates a secure
attachment, this same kind of concept has been used with mothers and
2 types of insecure attachment:
I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them
completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when
anyone gets too close, and often, love partners want me to be more intimate than I
feel comfortable being.
oIndicate insecure anxious-avoidant style, person is reluctant to get deeply
connected bc they have worries about that
I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my
partner doesn‘t really love me or won't want to stay with me. I want to merge
completely with another person, and this desire sometimes scares people away.
oAnxious-ambivalent , seeking greater connection
more securely attached, functioned better in relationship. Asked for recollection of
early experience with mom/dad and found a link. If you had a strong romantic
attachment, you also reported your mom was warm and responsive to you. Implied that
perhaps your early attachment had a continuing influence from 2-3 to age of college,
problems with this: only 3 measures, this is all retrospective, if I were to be asked
about my mom I could give an answer but the chances is that its accurately capturing is

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that it is pretty low, and current feelings are likely to influence how you think in the past
breakdown: 60% secure attachment, 40% insecure (exactly same breakdown you get
with infants)
The grand theory of John Bowlby
Bowlby credited with putting attachment on the map
how the bond btwn caregiver and infant will influence adjustment and adaptation
throughout childhood and the rest of one’s life
psychoanalytic proposition – was a belief that our early experiences are formative and
will significantly influence our later relationships
Attachment is…“A complex, instinctually guided behavioral system that has
functioned throughout human evolution to protect infants from predators.”
oHumans are wired to form a close attachment with their caregivers
oChildren will display a sequence of attachment related behaviours (crying,
clinging, following) that will elicit attachment response from caregivers
oBiological basis to this
oLargely evolutionarily determined
oImportant for survival for child to stay close to mom, and do things for the
mom to stay close to her
oPrimary purpose: protect from predators and danger:
Secondary Proposition:
oEmotion regulation – bonds with care givers allow to regulate emotions
and in particular negative emotion (fear, anxiety)
bowlby also added an individual difference to attachment also, he suggested that btwn
1-2 years old, even though all children are attached you can still make distinctions in
quality of attachment (secure vs. insecure)
Attachment in development
Normative patterns
oNormative processes related to attachment that youll see in nearly every
single human child, regardless of whether they’re in western or eastern
oCertain predetermined processes that will encourage formation of a strong
bond btwn child and caregiver
oBy age of 12 months almost every child has a strong bond
Failure to attach?
oSomething has gone dramatically wrong
oDevelopmental disability
oE.g. with autistic children – sometimes you don’t see an attachment btwn
child and parents at age 1
Relation to Emotional Development
Around 7-8 months, 2 landmark developments related to attachment – figure prominently
in thinking the way in which children are managing their attachment relationship
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