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Infant attachment[ edit ] The attachment system serves to achieve or maintain proximity to the attachment figure. In close physical proximity this system is not activated, and the infant can direct its attention to the outside world.
Within attachment theory, attachment means "a biological instinct in which proximity to an attachment figure is sought when the child senses or perceives threat or discomfort. Attachment behaviour anticipates a response by the attachment figure which will remove threat or discomfort".
John Bowlby begins by noting organisms at different levels of the phylogenetic scale regulate instinctive behavior in distinct ways, ranging from primitive reflex-like "fixed action patterns" to complex plan hierarchies with subgoals and strong learning components.
In the most complex organisms, instinctive behaviors may be "goal-corrected" with continual on-course adjustments such as a bird of prey adjusting its flight to the movements of the prey. The concept of cybernetically controlled behavioral systems organized as plan hierarchies Miller, Galanter, and Pribram, thus came to replace Freud's concept of drive and instinct.
Such systems regulate behaviors in ways that need not be rigidly innate, but—depending on the organism—can adapt in greater or lesser degrees to changes in environmental circumstances, provided these do not deviate much from the organism's environment of evolutionary adaptedness.
Such flexible organisms pay a price, however, because adaptable behavioral systems can more easily be subverted from their optimal path of development. For humans, Bowlby speculates, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness probably resembles present-day hunter-gatherer societies for the purpose of survival, and, ultimately, genetic replication.
These figures are arranged hierarchically, with the principal attachment figure at the top. Anxiety is the anticipation or fear of being cut off from the attachment figure. If the figure is unavailable or unresponsive, separation distress occurs. By age three or four, physical separation is no longer such a threat to the child's bond with the attachment figure.
Threats to security in older children and adults arise from prolonged absence, breakdowns in communication, emotional unavailability, or signs of rejection or abandonment.
A securely attached baby is free to concentrate on their environment. The attachment behavioural system serves to achieve or maintain proximity to the attachment figure. During the first phase the first eight weeksinfants smile, babble, and cry to attract the attention of potential caregivers.
Although infants of this age learn to discriminate between caregivers, these behaviours are directed at anyone in the vicinity. During the second phase two to six monthsthe infant discriminates between familiar and unfamiliar adults, becoming more responsive toward the caregiver; following and clinging are added to the range of behaviours.
The infant's behaviour toward the caregiver becomes organized on a goal-directed basis to achieve the conditions that make it feel secure. These manifest as protesting the caregiver's departure, greeting the caregiver's return, clinging when frightened, and following when able.
If the caregiver is inaccessible or unresponsive, attachment behaviour is more strongly exhibited. For example, whereas babies cry because of pain, two-year-olds cry to summon their caregiver, and if that does not work, cry louder, shout, or follow.
Tenets[ edit ] Common attachment behaviours and emotions, displayed in most social primates including humans, are adaptive. The long-term evolution of these species has involved selection for social behaviors that make individual or group survival more likely.
The commonly observed attachment behaviour of toddlers staying near familiar people would have had safety advantages in the environment of early adaptation, and has similar advantages today. Bowlby saw the environment of early adaptation as similar to current hunter-gatherer societies. According to Bowlby, proximity-seeking to the attachment figure in the face of threat is the "set-goal" of the attachment behavioural system.
Early experiences with caregivers gradually give rise to a system of thoughts, memories, beliefs, expectations, emotions, and behaviours about the self and others. Bowlby's original account of a sensitivity period during which attachments can form of between six months and two to three years has been modified by later researchers.
These researchers have shown there is indeed a sensitive period during which attachments will form if possible, but the time frame is broader and the effect less fixed and irreversible than first proposed.
With further research, authors discussing attachment theory have come to appreciate social development is affected by later as well as earlier relationships. Early steps in attachment take place most easily if the infant has one caregiver, or the occasional care of a small number of other people.
According to Bowlby, almost from the beginning, many children have more than one figure toward whom they direct attachment behaviour. These figures are not treated alike; there is a strong bias for a child to direct attachment behaviour mainly toward one particular person. Bowlby used the term "monotropy" to describe this bias.
Rather, current thinking postulates definite hierarchies of relationships. This system, called the "internal working model of social relationships", continues to develop with time and experience.
As they develop in line with environmental and developmental changes, they incorporate the capacity to reflect and communicate about past and future attachment relationships. This internal working model continues to develop through adulthood, helping cope with friendships, marriage, and parenthood, all of which involve different behaviours and feelings.
Specific attachment behaviours begin with predictable, apparently innate, behaviours in infancy. They change with age in ways determined partly by experiences and partly by situational factors.Dawson, G., Osterling, J., Meltzoff, A.
& Kuhl, P. () `Case Study of the Development of an Infant with Autism from Birth to Two Years of Age', Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology CASE STUDY PROFILE A.
GENERAL PROFILE Jasmine is an years old girl.
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