How Attachment Develops
According to Mary Ainsworth (1989) an attachment is an affectional
bond which is a "relatively long enduring tie in which the partner is
important as a unique individual (and where there) is a desire to
maintain closeness to the partner"
Ainsworth argued that attachment isn't an inherited behaviour
(nature), but took the view that attachment is a learned process
(nurture). She agreed to the view put forward by the behaviourists to
explain how all behaviour is acquired, known s the learning theory.
The learning theory is based around two principles of conditioning;
these are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical
conditioning states that the pleasure the child gets from food is
reflected on to the mother, so attachment is formed. Operant
conditioning goes further by saying recognises that the mother can
help relieve the discomfort associated with hunger, the baby wants to
retain its closeness to the mother for this reason.
The learning theory supported by behaviourists and Ainsworth has
opposition. Shaffer and Emerson found in 1964 that less than half
infants actually became attached to their 'feeder'. In another study
by Harlow and Harlow they concluded that attachment was not solely
based on the supply of food.
Bowlbys theory (1969) purposed the complete opposite that attachment
was innate (nurture). He suggested that attachment was important for
survival and both caregiver and infant have these innate tendencies to
form an attachment that serves to increase their chances of survival.
Another view believed by psychoanalytic psychologists states that an
infant becomes attached due the person their being attached to being
the source of food, comfort, warmth and a general source of satisfying
needs. This view also states that unhealthy attachments can develop
when the child is deprived or gains too much of this attention such as
food or oral pleasure.
Ainsworth (1974) purposed a caregiver's sensitivity hypothesis that
concluded that the type of attachment depends on the caregiver's warm
and loving responsiveness and supposed that secure attachment was the
result of mothers being sensitive to their children. This result was
concluded through a procedure known as 'the strange situation' which
is used to discover and measure the quality of attachment.
Ainsworth worked with Bell (1970) an assessed about 100 middle class
American infants and their mothers using 'the strange situation' this
is a method of controlled observation involving observing infants with