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Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson (1964) studied 60 babies at monthly intervals for the first 18 months of life (this is known as a longitudinal study).The children were all studied in their own home, and a regular pattern was identified in the development of attachment.The behavioral theory of attachment stated that the child becomes attached to the mother because she fed the infant.
Attachment is adaptive as it enhances the infant’s chance of survival.
This is illustrated in the work of Lorenz (1935) and Harlow (1958).
Specifically, it shaped his belief about the link between early infant separations with the mother and later maladjustment, and led Bowlby to formulate his attachment theory.
John Bowlby, working alongside James Robertson (1952) observed that children experienced intense distress when separated from their mothers.
One person may have an attachment to an individual which is not shared.
Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity to the attachment figure when upset or threatened (Bowlby, 1969).
Intensely attached infants had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and, interacted with their child.
Infants who were weakly attached had mothers who failed to interact.
The results of the study indicated that attachments were most likely to form with those who responded accurately to the baby's signals, not the person they spent more time with.
Schaffer and Emerson called this sensitive responsiveness.