Attachment - Influence on Later Relationships (Evaluation (Evidence on…
Attachment - Influence on Later Relationships
Internal Working Model
First attachment is a template
- it will affect future relationships.
- a child whose first experience is of a loving relationship with a reliable caregiver assumes this is how all relationships are meant to be. Future relationships are functional, as is their behaviour within them.
- a child with bad experiences of attachment will bring these experiences into later relationships. They may struggle to form relationships in the first place or may not behave appropriately within them.
Later Childhood and Parenting
Attachment types is associated with quality of childhood relationships
- securely attached children form the best quality childhood friendships whereas insecurely attached children have friendship difficulties.
Bullying involvement (Myron-Wilson & Smith)
- secure children were unlikely to be involved in bullying, insecure-avoidant children were most likely to be victims, insecure-resistant children were most likely to be bullies.
People base their parenting style on their internal working model
so attachment type tends to be passed on through generations of a family.
Bailey et al.
- studied the attachments of 99 mothers to their babies using the Strange Situation, and the mothers' attachments to their own mothers. The
majority of women had the same attachment classification to their babies and to their mothers.
Romantic Relationships in Adulthood - Hazan & Shaver
Analysed 620 replies to a 'love quiz' in an American newspaper
Quiz assessed three different aspects of relationships
General love experiences
Respondents' current or most important relationship
of respondents were identified as
Attachment type was reflected in their romantic relationships
Secure respondents were most likely to have good and longer-lasting romantic relationships
Insecure-avoidant respondents tended to be jealous and fear intimacy
Evidence on continuity of attachment is mixed
- internal working models predict that attachment type in infancy relate to a person's future relationships. However,
Zimmerman assessed infant attachment type and adolescent attachment to parents and found very little relationship between quality
Suggests internal working models are not that important in development
Association is not the same as causation
- these studies find that infant attachment is associated with quality of later relationships, but is not the same as saying it caused them.
There are alternative explanations
, such as the temperament of the child influencing both early attachment and adult relationships.
Counters Bowlby's view that the internal working model caused these outcomes
Most studies have issues with validity
- they assess infant-parent attachment using interviews or questionnaires years later.
These methods rely on participants being honest and having realistic views of their own relationships
validity is questioned
. It is also retrospective, relying on
accuracy of recall
Theoretical problem with research related to internal working models
- these are unconscious (we are not directly aware of their influence on us). So
we cannot expect to get evidence about them through self-report methods
(which use conscious awareness). At best, this will give us indirect evidence about them.
Potential limitation of most research involving internal working models
Influence of infant attachment on future relationships is exaggerated
- more appropriate to say the influence of early attachment is probabilistic, but people are not always doomed to have bad relationships because they had attachment problems. They just have greater risk.
By over-emphasising this risk we become too pessimistic