Click following link to check out a collection of classic articles that all psychology students should read.

Psychology Classics On Amazon

Psychology Classics

Principles of Attachment Theory

by Rebeca Torres

What are the main principles of attachment theory?

Comments for Principles of Attachment Theory

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments


by: Sylvie Verhoeven

Primarily associated with the work of British psychologist John Bowlby, attachment theory is an established framework that helps understand the bonds that form between children and their caregivers. It suggests that these early relationships significantly impact a child's emotional and social development. The main principles of attachment theory are:

Attachment is Innate: Attachment is considered an innate and biologically programmed behavior. Infants are born with the instinct to form attachments to ensure their survival and well-being.

Attachment Figures: Children form specific attachment bonds with one or a few primary caregivers, often their parents or guardians. These individuals are called attachment figures, and they play a central role in the child's life.

Secure Base: Attachment figures serve as a secure base from which the child can explore the world. When a child feels secure in their attachment, they are more likely to explore their environment, knowing they have a safe haven to return to when needed.

Internal Working Models: Children develop internal working models based on their early attachment experiences. These models serve as templates for future relationships and influence how individuals perceive and interact with others throughout their lives.

Attachment Styles: Attachment theory identifies different attachment styles based on the quality of the caregiver-child relationship:

Secure Attachment: Children with secure attachments feel safe exploring the world because they trust their caregiver will be responsive to their needs. They are more likely to develop positive relationships later in life.

Insecure-Avoidant Attachment: Children with this attachment style may not seek comfort from their caregiver and may handle distress independently. They may have difficulty trusting others in adulthood.

Insecure-Ambivalent/Resistant Attachment: Children with this attachment style may be anxious and uncertain about their caregiver's availability. They may have difficulty regulating their emotions and may become clingy or overly dependent in adulthood.

Disorganized Attachment: Some children display a disorganized attachment style, characterized by inconsistent behavior when seeking comfort. This style may result from inconsistent or traumatic caregiving experiences.

Critical Period: Attachment theory suggests that there is a critical period, typically during the first two years of life, during which the formation of attachments is most critical for healthy emotional development. However, attachments can be formed or modified throughout life.

Impact on Development: Early attachment experiences significantly impact a child's emotional, social, and cognitive development. Children with secure attachments tend to have better emotional regulation, social skills, and self-esteem.

Intergenerational Transmission: Attachment styles often get passed from one generation to the next. Parents who had secure attachments as children are more likely to provide secure attachments to their own children.

Therapeutic Applications: Attachment theory has influenced therapeutic approaches, such as attachment-based therapy and interventions aimed at helping individuals develop secure attachments and heal attachment-related wounds.

To summarize, attachment theory highlights the importance of early caregiver-child relationships in shaping a child's emotional and social development. Understanding attachment styles can provide insights into how individuals form and navigate relationships throughout their lives and guide interventions to support healthy attachment bonds.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Psychology Q & A.