Chapter 5: Establishment of Intimate Relationships and Their Implications for Future
Most children separated from their mothers progressed through three behavioural phases:
protest phase, phase of despair, and detachment phase.
Permanent withdrawal from human relationships may occur if a child’s separation from
the mother is extremely prolonged or if he loses a series of temporary attachment objects
which separated from his mother.
What are Emotional Attachments?
Attachment: describe the strong affectional ties that we feel for the special people in our
Attachments are Reciprocal Relationships
Neonate: a newborn infant from birth to approximately 1 month of age (people thought it
was difficult to be attached too).
Emotionally bonded: term used to describe the strong affectional ties that parents may
feel toward a neonate; some theorists believe that the strongest bonding occurs shortly
after birth, during a sensitive period.
Secure attachments build gradually from social interactions that take place over a period
of months, and there is simply no reason for parents who have not had early skin-to-skin
contact with their new-born to assume that they will have problems establishing a warm
and loving relationship with him or her.
Interactional Synchrony and Attachment
Synchronized routines: generally harmonious interactions between two persons in
which participants adjust their behaviour in response to the partner’s actions and
Infants play an important role in winning others’ affection by virtue of their
responsiveness to social overtures and their emerging ability to synchronize their
behaviours with those of sensitive companions.
How do Infants Become Attached?
The Growth of Primary Attachments
Asocial phase: (0-6 weeks), infants respond in an equally favourable way to interesting
social and non-social stimuli.
Phase of indiscriminate attachments: (6 weeks to 6-7 months), infants prefer social to
non-social stimulation and are likely to protest whenever any adult puts them down or
leaves them alone.
Specific attachment phase: (7-9 months), when infants are attached to one close
companion (usually the mother). Secure base: a point of safety which an infant can feel free to venture away.
Phase of multiple attachments: period when infants are forming attachments to
companions other than their primary attachment object.
Theories of Attachment
Psychoanalytic Theory: I Love You Because You Feed Me
Freud, young infants are oral creatures who derive satisfaction from sucking and
mouthing objects and should be attracted to any person who provides oral pleasure.
Erikson, a caregiver who consistently responds to an infant’s needs will foster the infant’s
sense of trust in other people, whereas unresponsive or inconsistent caregiving breeds
Learning Theory: Rewardingness Leads to Love
Secondary reinforce: an initially neutral stimulus that acquires reinforcement value by
virtue of its repeated association with other reinforcing stimuli.
Even if fed by the wire mother, infants clearly preferred the cloth mother, spending more
than 15 hours a day clutching her, compared with only an hour or so (mostly at
mealtimes) with the wire mother.
Learning theorists continued to argue that reinforcement is the mechanism responsible for
Cognitive-Developmental Theory: To Love You, I Must Know You Will Be There
Only cognitively advanced 9-month-olds had formed a primary attachment—a finding
which implies that the timing of this important emotional milestone does depend in part
on the infant’s level of object permanence.
Bowlby’s Ethological Theory: Perhaps I Was Born to Relate and Love
All species, including human beings, are born with a number of innate behavioural
tendencies that have in some way contributed to the survival of the species over the
course of evolution.
Origins of the Ethological Viewpoint
Imprinting: an innate or instinctual form of learning in which the young of certain
species will follow and become attached to moving objects.
Preadapated characteristic: an innate attribute that is a product of evolution and serves
some function that increases the chances of survival for the individual and the species. Attachment in Humans
Babyish facial features may well help to elicit the kinds of positive attention from other
that will promote emotional attachments, and the more attractive the baby, the more
favourably mothers and other companions respond to him or her.
Adults are just as biologically predisposed to respond favourable to a baby’s signals as
the baby is to emit them.
Bowlby claims that secure attachments develop gradually as parents become more
proficient at reading and reaction appropriately to the baby’s signals, and the baby is
learning what his parents are like and how he might regulate their behaviour.
Comparing the Four Theoretical Approaches
Each theory has helped us to understand how infants become attached to their closest
Individual Differences in Attachment Security
Assessing Attachment Security
Strange situation: a series of eight separations and reunion episodes to which infants are
exposed in order to determine the quality of their attachments.
Secure attachment: an infant/caregiver bond in which the child welcomes contact with a
close companion and uses this person as a secure base from which to explore the
Resistant attachment: an insecure infant/caregiver bond characterized by strong
separation protest and a tendency of the child to remain near but resist contact initiated by
the caregiver, particularly after a separation.
Avoidant attachment: an insecure infant/caregiver bond characterized by little
separation protest and a tendency of the child to avoid or ignore the caregiver.
Disorganized/disoriented attachment: an insecure infant/caregiver bond characterized
by the infant’s dazed appearance on reunion or a tendency to first seek and then abruptly
avoid the caregiver.
The very “strangeness” of the Strange Situation may prompt exaggerated emotional
reactions that are not true indicators of an infant’s day-to-day behaviour at home or the
true character of her relationships with caregivers.
Attachment Q-set (AQS): alternative method of assessing attachment security that is
based on observations of the child’s attachment-related behaviours at home; can be used
with infants, toddlers, and preschool children.
Adult Attachment Interview (AAI): respondents are questioned extensively about their