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 psychoanalysis, 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 but 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
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Ainsworth’s (1970) findings provided the first empirical evidence for Bowlby’s attachment theory. For example, securely attached children develop a positive working model of themselves and have mental representations of others as being helpful while viewing themselves as worthy of respect. Avoidant children think themselves unworthy and unacceptable, caused by a rejecting primary caregiver. Ambivalent children have negative self-image and exaggerate their emotional responses as a way to gain attention (McLeod, 2008). Accordingly, insecure attachment styles are associated with an increased risk of social and emotional behavioral problems via the internal working model.
Securely attached infants are typically associated with sensitive and responsive primary caregivers. Such children feel confident that the attachment figure will be available to meet their needs. They use the attachment figure as a safe base to explore the environment and seek the attachment figure in times of distress (McLeod, 2008). Securely attached infants are soothed by the caregiver when they are upset and learn that the caregiver will respond appropriately to their needs. According to Bowlby (1988) an individual who has experienced a secure attachment “is likely to possess a representational model of attachment figures(s) as being available, responsive, and helpful” (Bowlby, 1988). Secure children also tend to have a higher level of social competence, compared with insecure