Is Attachment a Scientific Theory?


Vincent White

Attachment Theory is a psychological theory that focuses on the emotional bonds that are formed between individuals. It was first introduced by John Bowlby in the 1950s and has since been widely studied and applied in various fields such as developmental psychology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry. But is Attachment Theory a scientific theory?

What is a Scientific Theory?

Before we delve into whether Attachment Theory is a scientific theory, it’s important to understand what a scientific theory is. A scientific theory is an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that has been extensively tested through observation and experimentation. It must be supported by empirical evidence and verified through repeated testing.

Is Attachment Theory a Scientific Theory?

Attachment Theory meets the criteria of a scientific theory as it has been extensively researched and tested through observation and experimentation. Numerous studies have been conducted to test the validity of the theory, and the results have consistently supported its main tenets.

One of the key aspects of Attachment Theory is that infants form emotional bonds with their primary caregivers, which shapes their future relationships. Research has shown that infants who develop secure attachments with their caregivers tend to have better social skills, higher self-esteem, and healthier relationships later in life.

Another aspect of Attachment Theory is that there are different attachment styles based on how infants interact with their primary caregivers. These attachment styles can affect an individual’s behavior in relationships throughout their life. For example, individuals with an insecure attachment style may struggle with intimacy or have difficulty trusting others.

  • Secure attachment: Infants with secure attachment tend to feel comfortable exploring their environment while still seeking contact with their caregiver.
  • Ambivalent attachment: Infants with ambivalent attachment tend to be clingy and anxious when separated from their caregiver but may also resist comfort from them upon return.
  • Avoidant attachment: Infants with avoidant attachment tend to avoid or ignore their caregiver and may not seek comfort from them when upset.


In conclusion, Attachment Theory is a scientific theory that has been extensively researched and tested. The theory’s main tenets have been supported by empirical evidence, making it a valuable framework for understanding the emotional bonds between individuals. By recognizing the different attachment styles, individuals can better understand how their early experiences may affect their future relationships.