Attachment Sensitivity and Attachments Styles

by | Mar 16, 2023

Bowen and Ainsworth, in the early 1930s, coined the psychological term attachment theory which means, “an emotional bond within a human relationship.” A human being’s first attachment is often established during the first year of life with their primary caregiver. 

  • Attachment behavior in adults towards the child includes responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s needs.  Such behavior appears universal across cultures.
  • Attachment theory explains how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.
  • Attachments are most likely to form with those who responded accurately to the baby’s signals, not the person they spent more time with. Schaffer and Emerson called this sensitive responsiveness.
  • Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity to the attachment figure when upset or threatened (Bowlby, 1969).
Based on this theory there are 4 basic attachment styles: 
  • Secure: self-assured, direct, responsive
  • Preoccupied: self-doubting, anxious, sensitive
  • Anxious: self-sabotaging, unpredictable, isolated 
  • Dismissive: self-reliant, avoidant, distant

Preoccupied, anxious and dismissive type can lead to significant relationship problems now and in the future within intimate relationships.