Attachment as Personal Characteristic or a Measure of the Environment
Michael Lewis Candice Feiring
In trying to understand the etiology of human development, three basic models have been utilized: a trait model, an environmental model, and an interactional model. These three models, prototypes of various views of development, make clear how certain assumptions are used to understand the etiology of human behavior. The attachment model is the most accepted and utilized theory on the development of social relationships and has as its central thesis the assumption that one set of social experiences is directly connected to the next. Most studies on the outcome of early attachment behavior have not considered the nature of the child's environment at the time the outcome status of the child is measured. The failure to do so is evidence of a paradigm which holds attachment to operate as a trait. Longitudinal data are examined to understand how attachment and early and subsequent environment predict behavior problems. The results suggest that attachment in fact may be a measure of environment as much as it is a measure of a child's characteristic.
In the study of social development, certain beliefs are accepted as facts, because they fit the current zeitgeist or paradigm ( Kuhn, 1962). The paradigm under which most of social development operates is one that states that the child's earliest social experiences impact on its later life and that these early social experiences are for the most part caused by particular parenting, specifically the mother--child interaction and relationship. Currently, beliefs exist that support this general paradigm. These beliefs are spoken of as facts, although there is considerable reason to doubt the validity of each one.
The first of these facts has to do with childrens' responsivity to the social