Bowlby
came up with the idea of ‘internal working models’ as one of the stages in his
theory on attachment, this idea proposed that a developing child formed a
mental representation of their first attachment, which eventually has a
significant impact on their future relationships with their partners and/or
children. If a child internalises a positive working model of attachment they will
bring those qualities to any future relationship, the same with a negative
working model i.e. abuse, and neglect. Bowlby believed this behaviour was passed
down the family through the creation of ‘internal working models’. Bowlby seems
to have been proven correct with this view, an experiment carried out by
Fonagy??? in 1993 showed evidence for this theory. In the experiment dozens of
pregnant women’s internal working models were examined using an interview
called the adult attachment interview AAI. Concluding with a strong
interconnection between the mothers’ reports of their own maternal attachment, and
their attachment with their own babies.

 

Although
Bowlby is credited with coming up the attachment theory, the classification, and
explanation of attachment types, was pioneered by American-Canadian
psychologist Mary Ainsworth. Ainsworth noted that different attachment types
could be seen in children, based on their autonomy when playing, anxiety
displayed when left alone by themselves or with a stranger, and their response
to being reunited with their parent (Ainsworth, 1969). In 1969, Ainsworth along
with a colleague developed a laboratory experiment to categorise different
attachment types, this was called the ‘strange situation’ procedure, it was
engineered to find out how attached a child is to its primary carer. The
rationale behind it was that infants display different behaviour towards their
primary caregiver, and towards strangers, based their level of attachment. The
strange situations procedure has eight episodes, each designed to measure the
child’s reaction from the absence of its primary carer, to the presence of a
stranger, and being left by themselves. From this, Ainsworth proposed three different
types of attachment. The first labelled type A (avoidant), the second type B (securely
attached), and the third type C (resistant or ambivalent).

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According
to Ainsworth children classed as ‘Type A’ or ‘Avoidant’, play autonomously, do
not stress out when the primary carer leaves, and do not make contact when the
primary carer comes back. (statistics). Children classed as ‘Type B’ or ‘Securely
Attached’, play autonomously, although they tend to be stressed when left alone
with neither the stranger nor the primary carer present. They greet the carer enthusiastically
and accept comfort from them when they return (Statistics). The last attachment
type classified by Ainsworth is ‘Type C’ or ‘Resistant, Ambivalent’, these children
are less curious of their surroundings than types A and B. They get stressed
when left with the stranger, they hurry to the primary carer on their return, but
do not immediately accept comforting from them (Statistics). The strange
situations experiment has good predictive power, but what the test actually
measures has come under question. Another criticism of the procedure is that the
results of it could have been influenced by temperament as much as by the
child’s level of attachment, although temperament cannot explain why the child
rushes to greet the primary carer on their return.

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