papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief


Having already concluded-together with many other clinicians and social workers-that a close, continuous, and mutually satisfying relationship with a mother figure across the first few years of life serves as a foundation to mental health, Bowlby began to search for new explanations of the origin and import of this tie. At this point, his attention was drawn to Konrad Lorenz’s work on imprinting, which pointed out that social bond formation need not be tied to feeding. Like the ethologist Robert Hinde. Lorenz, Tinbergen, and other leading ethologists believed that species-wide behavior patterns, like species’ morphology, could best be understood as being adapted to selection pressures originating in what Bowlby would later term the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (Bowlby, 1969).

For most adults, attachment behavior is less readily activated than for young children, and in most well-functioning couples, both partners feel free to either turn to the other as an attachment figure, or alternately, to provide caregiving for the other as necessary.

Specific or “focused” attachments appear by the third quarter of the first year of life in most human infants, and are believed to be based upon contingent social interactions. There is no evidence that these interactions need be positive, and infants unquestionably take insensitive and maltreating parents as attachment figures

The attachment behavioral system is not expected to function normally if the individual (a) has not had interaction with a caregiving figure sufficient to form an attachment during the first three years of life or (b) has experienced repeated, stressful, long-term separation from all attachment figures during this same time period


For the structuralists, such as Edward Bradford Titchener and Wilhelm Wundt, attention was defined in terms of the clearness of sensory processes. In contrast, William James (1890/1950) emphasized the functional significance of attention. He argued that there are many items simultaneously available to the senses that fail to enter into one’s conscious experience. They fail to register because they are not of interest to the observer. In short, experience is what one agrees to attend to: without selective interest, experience would be utter chaos.

Also crucial in the renaissance of attention was applied work conducted during and immediately after World War II that focused on the practical significance of the fact that humans are quite limited in their ability to process information.

Tags: encyclopedia of psychology

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