Ethological Theory

says behavior is strongly influenced by biology and is tied to evolution characterized by critical or sensitive periods or specific time frames during which certain experiences can have a long-lasting influence

Lorenz's Ethological Theory

Lorenz’s Ethological Theory, Imprinting

Konrad Lorenz, a zoologist studied the behavior of greylag geese, which will follow their mothers as soon as they hatch


the rapid, innate learning that involves attachment to the first moving object seen

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Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

attachment to a caregiver over the first year of life has important consequences throughout the life span. if attachment = positive and secure, individual develops positively in childhood and adulthood. If attachment = negative and insecure, not optimal development

says caregiver and infant are predisposed to form attachments baby clings, coos, cries. immediate result is to keep the primary caregiver near by and the long-term effect is to increase the infant’s chances of survival

Phases of Attachment

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Mary Ainsworth's Attachment Theory

Mary Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory

emphasized the importance of early relationships built on John Bowlby’s work Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Strange Situation Assessment

a researcher observes a child’s reactions when a mother briefly leaves her child alone in an unfamiliar room. The way the baby reacts in presence of a stranger can tell us about the attachment style

Attachment Styles

Secure attachment: Securely attached children seek comfort when frightened and prefer parents to strangers. Insecure-avoidant attachment: Anxiously attached children are wary of strangers, exhibit great distress when a parent leaves, but are not comforted by a parent’s return. Insecure-resistant attachment: Avoidantly attached children show little preference for parents over strangers and seek little comfort from their caregivers.

Separation AnxietyDistressed when mother leavesIntense distress when the mother leavesNo sign of distress when the the mother leaves
Stranger AnxietyAvoidant of stranger when alone, but friendly when the mother is presentThe infant avoids the stranger – shows fear of the strangerThe infant is okay with the stranger and plays normally when the stranger is present
Reunion behaviorPositive and happy when mother returnsThe infant approaches the mother, but resists contact, may even push her awayThe Infant shows little interest when the mother returns
OtherUses the mother as a safe base to explore their environmentThe infant cries more and explores less than the other two typesThe mother and stranger are able to comfort the infant equally well
% of infants70%15%15%


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