As a result of mastering this topic, the student must:


• The notion of attachment and its influence on the development of J. Bowlby;

• Attachment types and their characteristics;

• the influence of attachment type on the further development of a person;

be able to

• Analyze the behavior of the child in terms of the type of attachment shown;


• The skills of analyzing the practical application of the theory of J. Bowlby.

Introduction to John Bowlby's attachment theory

The English psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, in constructing his theory, proceeded from the psychoanalysis of Freud, and therefore paid special attention to the first years of a person's life, when the mother and the baby are in a special interaction, which largely determines the further child development. However, if, from the point of view of Z. Freud, the baby is aimed at the mother as a source of satisfaction of his need, then J. Bowlby believed that already at such an early age the child has all the prerequisites for inclusion in social life.

Social behavior of the baby

According to J. Bowlby, children are very dependent on adults, and therefore must have special behavioral mechanisms that would guarantee the presence of a guardian.

This behavior is typical for small children, because in the teenage years, a sharp reorientation of the child occurs: if the infant is aimed at a close adult and depends on it (and therefore fears everything new), then for an adolescent a special attraction is given to an unfamiliar object.

For a small child, a parent's departure is a catastrophic event - it means a direct threat to life. Behavioral mechanisms aimed at retaining an adult include crying, smiling, clinging, sucking and following. In fact, the baby is already born with a set of ways that allow him to attract the attention of an adult. However, only at the end of the first year of life this set is transformed into an attachment system that relates the proximity parameter to security. Initially, J. Bowlby assumed that this mechanism is triggered in a situation of threat (danger) and ceases to function in the event that the situation is seen as safe. The action of the mechanism determines the behavior of attachment. Every child evaluates every situation from the point of view of the presence in it of something interesting, attractive and, on the contrary, frightening. In the case when the environment is perceived by the child as interesting and does not cause him fear, the need for intimacy with the adult to whom it is attached decreases, and the baby quietly carries out the research. If the environment seems frightening, eye contact can no longer satisfy the child, and he needs closeness with an adult. Of greatest interest are situations in which the child, on the one hand, has an interest in the situation, and on the other - fear. In this case, the kid turns to the adult as a source of information. Supporters of the attachment theory believe that it is the ego behavior that underlies the phenomenon of social referentiveness. In his works, J. Bowlby tried to explain the causes of anxiety in the child due to even a short absence of the mother, as well as describe the special processes that select signals that trigger attachment behavior.

John Bowlby argued that at first the social reactions of toddlers are not distinguished by their legibility. So, babies will smile at any person or cry for the care of any person. However, at the age of three to six months, children narrow the focus of their reactions to a few familiar people, form a clear preference for one person (attachment figure) and then begin to be treated with suspicion towards people unfamiliar. Soon children become more mobile and, as a result, are actively fighting for the retention of the main attachment figure.

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