Major Movements in Psychology

Attachment Theory

What are the ways that insecure attachment manifests?

Avoidant children, whom Ainsworth originally classified as A babies, show overly independent behavior. They tend to show more interest in the toys than their mother and little distress during the separation. Most importantly, they turn away from their mother upon reunion; hence they are avoidant. Resistant babies (or C babies) may be seen as overly dependent. They are less likely to engage with the toys when with their mother is present and may show great distress upon separation. Upon reunion, they show proximity-seeking behavior with the mother (crying, reaching, etc.) but also resist the mothers’ attempts to soothe them. They may push their mothers away, arch their backs when picked up, or angrily kick their mothers. While avoidant and resistant classifications are considered a variant of normal attachment, disorganized attachment is more likely to be found in children who are victims of abusive or otherwise pathological parenting. These children do not show a consistent strategy of dealing with attachment and may even show fear toward their parent.


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