Statement A = Avoidant Dismissing Style

Children with avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid parents and caregivers. This avoidance often becomes especially pronounced after a period of absence. These children might not reject attention from a parent, but neither do they seek our comfort or contact. Children with an avoidant attachment show no preference between a parent and a complete stranger.

As adults, those with an avoidant attachment tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships. These individuals do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using excuses (such as long work hours), or may fantasize about other people during sex. Research has also shown that adults with an avoidant attachment style are more accepting and likely to engage in casual sex (Feeney, J., Noller, and Patty 1993). Other common characteristics include a failure to support partners during stressful times and an inability to share feelings, thoughts and emotions with partners.

As children

1)   May avoid parents

2)   Does not seek much comfort or contact from parents

3)   Shows little or no preference between parent and stranger

As Adults

 1)   May have problems with intimacy

2)   Invest little emotion in social and romantic relationships

3)   Unable or unwilling to share thoughts and feelings with others

 

Statement B = Anxious (sometimes call preoccupied / Disorganised)

Children with a disorganized-insecure attachment style show a lack of clear attachment behavior. Their actions and responses to caregivers are often a mix of behaviors, including avoidance or resistance. These children are described as displaying dazed behavior, sometimes seeming either confused or apprehensive in the presence of a caregiver.

Main and Solomon (1986) proposed that inconsistent behavior on the part of parents might be a contributing factor in this style of attachment. In later research, Main and Hesse (1990) argued that parents who act as figures of both fear and reassurance to a child contribute to a disorganized attachment style. Because the child feels both comforted and frightened by the parent, confusion results.

 

AT AGE 1

1) Show a mixture of avoidant and resistant behaviors.

2) May seem dazed, confused, or apprehensive.

AT AGE 6

1) May take on parental role

2) Some children act as a caregiver toward the parent.

 

Statement C = Avoidant Fearful

Children who are ambivalently attached tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers. These children display considerable distress when separated from a parent or caregiver, but do not seem reassured or comforted by the return of the parent. In some cases, the child might passively reject the parent by refusing comfort, or may openly display direct aggression toward the parent.

According to Cassidy and Berlin (1994), ambivalent attachment is relatively uncommon, with only 7% to 15% of infants in the United States displaying this attachment style. In a review of ambivalent attachment literature, Cassidy and Berlin also found that observational research consistently links ambivalent-insecure attachment to low maternal availability. As these children grow older, teachers often describe them as clingy and over-dependent.

As adults, those with an ambivalent attachment style often feel reluctant about becoming close to others and worry that their partner does not reciprocate their feelings. This leads to frequent breakups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These individuals feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship. Cassidy and Berlin described another pathological pattern where ambivalently attached adults cling to young children as a source of security (1994).

As Children

1)            May be wary of strangers

2)            Become greatly distressed when parents leaves

3)            Do not appear to be comforted by the return of the parent

As Adults

1)            Reluctant to become close to others

2)            Worries that their partner does not love them

3)            Become very distraught when a relationship ends

 

Statement D = Secure

Children who are securely attached generally become visibly upset when their caregivers leave, and are happy when their parents return. When frightened, these children will seek comfort from the parent or caregiver. Contact initiated by a parent is readily accepted by securely attached children and they greet the return of a parent with positive behavior. While these children can be comforted to some extent by other people in the absence of a parent or caregiver, they clearly prefer parents to strangers.

Parents of securely attached children tend to play more with their children. Additionally, these parents react more quickly to their children’s needs and are generally more responsive to their children than the parents of insecurely attached children. Studies have shown that securely attached children are more empathetic during later stages of childhood. These children are also described as less disruptive, less aggressive, and more mature than children with ambivalent or avoidant attachment styles.

As adults, those who are securely attached tend to have trusting, long-term relationships. Other key characteristics of securely attached individuals include having high self-esteem, enjoying intimate relationships, seeking out social support, and an ability to share feelings with other people. In one study, researchers found that women with a secure attachment style had more positive feelings about their adult romantic relationships than other women with insecure attachment styles (Mccarthy G., 1999).

As children

1)   Able to separate from parent

2)   Seek comfort from parents when frightened

3)   Return of parents is met with positive emotions

4)   Prefers parents to strangers

As Adults

1)   Have trusting lasting relationships

2)   Tend to have good self esteem

3)   Comfortable sharing feelings with friends and partners

4)   Seek out social support