Can neurological research increase our understanding of Attachment Theory and improve school interventions for adolescents?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Lindsey Foy
Submitted: May 2014

Originally introduced by John Bowlby, Attachment Theory proposes that an infant forms an attachment with their primary caregiver during a sensitive period of development and uses this individual as a secure base from which to explore the world (Bowlby, 1979; Bowlby 2008). The attachment relationship that develops forms a template that the infant uses as a reference for future relationships with other individuals. If a child does not form the appropriate bond with their caregiver they are likely to develop an insecure attachment style. According to a recent publication, forty percent of children in the United Kingdom show signs of insecure attachment (Moullin, Waldfogel & Washbrook, 2014). Insecure attachment has been shown to affect cognitive functioning (e.g. Bernier, Carlson, Deschênes & Matte‐Gagné, 2012) and behaviour (Fearon, Bakermans‐Kranenburg, IJzendoorn, Lapsley & Roisman, 2010). Despite the growth of preventative intervention programmes (Moullin, Waldfogel & Washbrook, 2014) research on supporting children who have already developed an insecure attachment is limited. Bowlby’s work does not consider whether attachment style can be altered once an infant has left their sensitive period of development (Mercer, 2011). This assignment proposes that neurological research within this field of psychology increases our understanding of Attachment Theory when incorporated into a biopsychosocial model of attachment. The assignment aims to explore the contribution that neurological research has to the development of intervention programmes for adolescents with insecure attachment. The findings from this developing area of research will be explored cautiously and the implications for Educational Psychologists will be discussed.

Download (PDF)