Mein et al 2001 deduced from their research a contributing factor to secure attachment. Mothers who treated their infants as “persons” as appose to “a creature with needs that must be satisfied” (Mein et al., 2001 p.638. cited) resulted in the infants being securely attached and able to perform well in theory of mind tasks at the age of 4 (Oates et al. 2005). The theory of internal working model has been developed by investigating ways in which how infants develop their IWM on relationships. Goldberg et al. carried out some research in 1994 to investigate the effects of emotional communication on attachment (Oates et al. 2005).
Secure infants displayed a full range of emotions to which their mother responded to, mothers were unresponsive to the few emotions displayed by the avoidant infants especially the negative displays and ambivalent infants tended to learn that negative emotion was a valid way of getting response from the mother as they adhered to it (Oates et al. 2005) John Bowlby emphasised that attachments do not have to be to a single figure. He highlighted the important part that fathers can play to “complement and support an infant’s attachment to their `mother” (Oates et al. 2005, p.25). Easterbrooks and Goldberg noted in 1984 that sensitive paternal behaviour reinforced children’s adaptation. Bowbly’s disbelief in monotropy attachments lead researchers to explore how marital relationships influence chid outcomes (Gable et al., 1994).
Bowlby stated the importance of long term stable relationship with carers that lead researchers to question the predictive value of the Strange Situation. Lamb et al. reinforced Bowlby’s view by emphasising “the predictive relationship between Strange Situation behaviour in infancy and subsequent child behaviour is found only when there is stability in care giving arrangements and family circumstanced which maintain stability in patterns of parent-child interaction.” (Oates et al. 2005, p.33).
The IWM theory served as a productive springboard for Baumrind’s alternative approach to understanding how parenting influences child development. Baumrind’s innovative work highlighted the correlation between precise parenting styles and certain child outcomes (Oates et al. 2005). Four patterns of child rearing were identified; authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and non conformist. Baumrind’s (1967, 1973) amongst others claim that certain parenting styles such as authoritative lead to more positive child outcomes (Oates et al. 2005).
It is important to note the social and cultural context in which Bowlby developed his theory of attachment. A criticism to Baumrind’s research was that it too was culturally specific. The cultural settings and beliefs play a big part in how parents adopt their parenting style. Patterson’s research (1976, 1982) opened a pathway to further develop the attachment theory by draw attention to reciprocal influence that children have on their parents and vice versa (Oates et al. 2005). Transactional models are an efficient way to encapsulate the intricate influences that affect parent-child relationships (Oates et al. 2005).
The original formulation of attachment theory has been used to develop intervention therapy, but it is not without its own difficulties. Bowlby sees IWM as a key feature for later relationships but did not perceive them as permanent and unchangeable (Oates et al. 2005). Dr Stella Acquarone makes use of all aspects of the attachment theory to try aid relationship difficulties between caregivers and infants (Open University, 2005). In Marni’s situation the use of a transitional object (Winnicott, 1964) is suggested as a way of developing a more fulfilled secure attachment to her mother. Maternal sensitivity is explored in Renee case whereby the mother finds it difficult to sooth her child (Media Kit Part 2, Video Band 3: Finding a way: Marni and Renee).
It is often heard in modern day society that children’s misbehaviour is blamed on the parents (Woodhead et al. 2005). This belief has become a bridge stone for psychological theories to explore typical and disturbed behaviour (Woodhead et al. 2005). The development of disturbed behaviour has been suggested to be linked with mother-child relationships. This in turn draws attention to the mother’s mental state.
Murray (1992) developed this area by carrying out research that showed how mothers who had experienced postnatal depression were likely to have infants that were classified as insecurely attached, this in turn lead, to an indication of future disturbed behaviour. Researcher did recognise that there was not a straight forward causal relationship between mental states, responsiveness and disturbed behaviour (Cox et al. 1987). An important point that contributes to attachment is the mother’s ability to understand what the infant may have in mind through being “mind mindedness” (Mein et al., 2002).
The attachment theory developed by Bowlby has been the groundwork for subsequent research. A fundamental concept in the theory is that the internal working models that can be plural and change through out life. Forms of attachment, developed by Ainsworth, can be classified into two main types; secure and insecure. Classification types vary by the contrasting styles of parenting that caregivers use (Baumrind, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1991; Baumrind and Black, 1967). This in turn can affect the child’s future relationships. Baumrind has suggested that authoritative parenting can produce more optimistic child outcomes (Oates et al. 2005).
Parenting and child development are strongly bound with a complex cause and effect relationship between the two. Transactional models are needed to encapsulate this complexity (Oates et al. 2005). Main (1994) made the association of infant classification types through into adulthood showing that with long term stability from carers the classification types translate into adulthood. Life events have been held accountable for the change in classification types (Zimmerman, 2000).
Bowlby’s original formulation was created at a time where there was a political push for woman to return to being housewives after the war. The social and cultural context of research must be taken into account when being studied. Future research would benefit in studying attachment cross culturally. As a result of Bowlby’s work there have been major changes in the way children are looked after, primarily by taking into consideration children’s emotion. His outlined theory of having a “deep attachment for a person (or a place or a thing) is to have taken them as a terminating object of our instinctual responses” was viewed by some psychoanalytic colleagues as a behaviourist approach. (Oates et al. 2005).