Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.
Infants are born with a propensity to direct precursory attachment behaviors to human figures like crying, looking, clinging to which caregivers are particularly likely to respond. These behaviors elicit care giving and bring the caregiver into close proximity with the infant, ensuring protection from environmental dangers and a sense of security. Over time, infants begin to direct these responses primarily to one or a few caregivers. Around 7 to 8 months of age, infants show attachment to caregivers by protesting their leaving and grieving for them during their absence. As toddlers, children form a goal-corrected partnership in that they can begin to perceive events during interactions with mother from her perspective (Bowlby, 1969/1982).
Attachment theory is the joint work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991). Drawing on concepts from ethology, cybernetics, information processing, developmental psychology, and psychoanalysts, John Bowlby formulated the basic tenets of the theory. He thereby revolutionized our thinking about a child’s tie to the mother and its disruption through separation, deprivation, and bereavement.
Mary Ainsworth’s innovative methodology not only made it possible to test some of Bowlby’s ideas empirically hut also helped expand the theory itself and is responsible for some of the new directions it is now taking. Ainsworth contributed the concept of the attachment figure as a secure base from which an infant can explore the world. In addition, she formulated the concept of maternal sensitivity to infant signals and its role in the development of infant-mother attachment patterns.
The theory in psychology originates with the seminal work of (Bowlby, 1958). In the 1930’s John Bowlby worked as a psychiatrist in a Child Guidance