chapter  4
28 Pages

Infants and preschool children: observational assessments of attachment, a review and discussion of clinical applications

This chapter provides an overview and description of observational assessments of attachment in infancy and the preschool years. These measurement systems represent the culmination of seminal theoretical breakthroughs during the past four decades. These include:

1 the centrality of attachment behaviour for individual and group survival among altricial species (i.e., species that have a finite number of young per birth cycle) (Bowlby, 1969/1982);

2 the discovery that infant attachment bonds were not the result of associations between caregivers and food (Harlow, 1958);

3 recognition of the attachment behavioural system as a biologically based behavioural system that interacts dynamically with other biologically based behavioural systems and that is shaped by experience (Bowlby, 1969/1982); and

4 the discovery that individual differences in the balance between the attachment and exploratory behavioural systems provide important information about the quality of a child’s attachment to a specific attachment figure (Ainsworth et al., 1978).