Question Sam Social Sciences

Attachment theory

What are the different stages of attachment theory?

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In 1951 John Bowlby proposed his attachment theory, where he suggested that an infant possesses an inbuilt biological need to experience close contact with its primary care giver. These needs, Bowlby believed, were met by the primary care giver due to their own maternal instincts. Bowlby’s theory provided four key stages, which are as follows:

Asocial (0-6 weeks old) – Young infants fall into this stage where almost any stimuli, both socially and non-socially are likely to draw a favourable reaction.

Indiscriminate Attachments (6 weeks to 7 months old) – Infants will enjoy human contact and respond similarly to all care givers. They will likely get upset when a care giver stops interacting with them.

Specific Attachments (7 - 9 months old) – Infants will begin to look to certain people for comfort and security and will show fear when faced with a stranger, they will also become distressed when separated from their primary caregiver.

Multiple Attachment (9 months+) – Infants will start to show signs of independence from the primary care giver and will start to form other attachments. By 18 months, they should have formed multiple attachments.