What is Attachment?
Attachment is a strong affectional tie that bonds an infant to their parent(s), and ultimately to an intimate companion in adulthood. The basic idea behind attachment theory (credited largely to the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth) is that we all have affectional needs. It is the extent to which our needs are met or not that ultimately shape our relationship patterns. More specifically, through early parent-child interactions, infants’ initial experiences of attachment become represented in the form of internal “working models” or “core beliefs” about the self, others, the world, and the future. Once learned, these models will guide an infant’s perceptions, thoughts, emotions and expectations in later relationships. They will carry these models forward and continue to re-enact them.
In his work, Dr. John Gottman discusses how in attempts to have our needs met, we all partake in what he refers to as bids for attention. Bids for attention are just that, behaviors that we engage in to get our partners’ attention in order to meet our affectional needs. These bids will look different depending on the styles we have developed.
The Four Attachment Styles
I. The child
A) Secure Attachment: A securely attached infant may experience separation anxiety when their attachment figure leaves. When the figure returns, they greet their figure warmly, comforted by their presence. The infant will explore a room when in the presence of their figure. The securely attached infant is friendly with strangers when in the presence of their figure. As they grow up they will develop a positive self-concept and positive self-esteem. They will also develop a positive view of the world, of others, and of the future.
Stay tuned for the following styles and their impact on our relationships!