Throughout the middle of the 19th century Psychologists began to notice that children that were brought up in orphanages where they received below average care, often grew up to experience emotional difficulty in their adult life.
The moment that children are born they depend on their caregiver in order to survive. The children often develop a strong emotional bond with these people who respond to their needs. This process is called attachment. Psychologist now defines attachment as the emotional bond that is developed during early childhood with their primary caregiver (usually their mother). Psychologists believe that the attachment forms during infancy, from the age of birth to about 12 months of age. This is said to have a huge impact on the children in their later lives.
John Bowlby was a key psychologist who was very influential to the theory of attachment. Bowlby used information derived from his clients to construct his theory. According to Bowlby, there are four key characteristics that all need to be present if a strong attachment is to form between an infant and caregiver:
* Proximity Maintenance – the infant’s desire to be near the person to whom it is attached
* Safe Haven – the ability to return the attachment figure for comfort and safety when scared or feeling unsafe or threatened
* Secure Base – the ability to perceive the attachment figure as a base of security from which the infant can explore the surrounding environment
* Separation distress – anxiety experienced when the attachment figure leaves or is absent
Bowlby considered the infant-caregiver bond to be important in two ways. First, the bond forms the foundation for healthy emotional development later in life. Second, the bond has ‘evolutionary’ function, which, according to Bowlby, improves the infant’s chance of survival.
Harlow and the monkeys
During the 1950’s and 60’s a man by the name of Harry Harlow...