Bowlbycame up with the idea of ‘internal working models’ as one of the stages in histheory on attachment, this idea proposed that a developing child formed amental representation of their first attachment, which eventually has asignificant impact on their future relationships with their partners and/orchildren. If a child internalises a positive working model of attachment they willbring those qualities to any future relationship, the same with a negativeworking model i.e. abuse, and neglect. Bowlby believed this behaviour was passeddown the family through the creation of ‘internal working models’. Bowlby seemsto have been proven correct with this view, an experiment carried out byFonagy??? in 1993 showed evidence for this theory. In the experiment dozens ofpregnant women’s internal working models were examined using an interviewcalled the adult attachment interview AAI. Concluding with a stronginterconnection between the mothers’ reports of their own maternal attachment, andtheir attachment with their own babies.
AlthoughBowlby is credited with coming up the attachment theory, the classification, andexplanation of attachment types, was pioneered by American-Canadianpsychologist Mary Ainsworth. Ainsworth noted that different attachment typescould be seen in children, based on their autonomy when playing, anxietydisplayed when left alone by themselves or with a stranger, and their responseto being reunited with their parent (Ainsworth, 1969). In 1969, Ainsworth alongwith a colleague developed a laboratory experiment to categorise differentattachment types, this was called the ‘strange situation’ procedure, it wasengineered to find out how attached a child is to its primary carer. Therationale behind it was that infants display different behaviour towards theirprimary caregiver, and towards strangers, based their level of attachment.
Thestrange situations procedure has eight episodes, each designed to measure thechild’s reaction from the absence of its primary carer, to the presence of astranger, and being left by themselves. From this, Ainsworth proposed three differenttypes of attachment. The first labelled type A (avoidant), the second type B (securelyattached), and the third type C (resistant or ambivalent). Accordingto Ainsworth children classed as ‘Type A’ or ‘Avoidant’, play autonomously, donot stress out when the primary carer leaves, and do not make contact when theprimary carer comes back. (statistics). Children classed as ‘Type B’ or ‘SecurelyAttached’, play autonomously, although they tend to be stressed when left alonewith neither the stranger nor the primary carer present. They greet the carer enthusiasticallyand accept comfort from them when they return (Statistics).
The last attachmenttype classified by Ainsworth is ‘Type C’ or ‘Resistant, Ambivalent’, these childrenare less curious of their surroundings than types A and B. They get stressedwhen left with the stranger, they hurry to the primary carer on their return, butdo not immediately accept comforting from them (Statistics). The strangesituations experiment has good predictive power, but what the test actuallymeasures has come under question.
Another criticism of the procedure is that theresults of it could have been influenced by temperament as much as by thechild’s level of attachment, although temperament cannot explain why the childrushes to greet the primary carer on their return.