Theory: Its Usefulness in the Workplace Today Term Paper

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theory: Its usefulness in the workplace today

Attachment theory has its origins in the study of animals. Watching geese 'imprint' upon the first living being they encounter after hatching or researchers observing how baby monkeys thrive when given terry cloth mothers, as opposed to wire mothers, are all examples of attachment theory in action. Attachment theory reinforces the psychodynamic notion that early experiences are seminal and seismic in shaping the human psyche and the way human beings relate to one another. As applied to humans, attachment theory suggests that parents who respond in a positive way to their infant's needs formulate the character of the child in such a way to enable him or her to feel secure in his or her relationships. In contrast, parents who create bonds of insecure attachment by being smothering or rejecting will foster behavioral patterns in their children that are negative, rather than positive. The child's future personality development becomes unfulfilling: avoidant and resistant personality types either passively or actively show hostility toward the parent while anxious types are overly dependant upon external parental reinforcement and praise (Attachment theory, 2002, Great ideas). On a macro scale, a general parenting style adopted by a culture, like an overly permissive or autocratic approach can create a generationally negative interpersonal style, as some allege is the case today: parents allow technology rather than human interaction to create emotionally avoidant, selfish and disconnected children while overly involved parents in smaller and more affluent households create clingy and spoiled children.

Thus attachment theory may seem predominantly personal in its orientation but it would be mistaken to see attachment theory as only useful for developmental psychologists and educators. Attachment issues can have sociological implication. In the workforce, individuals with a sense of healthy, secure attachments and appropriate personal boundaries can become positive team players, still retain their sense of creative independence as employees, and maintain a positive work and life balance. Avoidant employees may withdraw from conflict and withhold their emotional support from critical workplace initiatives. They may use the workplace to further self-interested goals rather than the general goals of the organization or society. They can become involved in negative behind -- the politicking because they do not express emotions directly, in a healthy fashion, but only through silence or rage. Overly needy employees may need excessive direction from their superiors, and bring too many emotions to their workplace decisions. They may become personally hurt when their work is justifiably criticized, and act emotional rather than seek to productively change what they are doing. They see their work as excessively important, rather than place their efforts in the context of a larger mission, and may fail to prioritize work-related obligations over personal needs.

Attachment theory provides a framework for understanding how adults function towards one another, as they unconsciously replay their old grievances towards authority figures: "Secure adults find it relatively easy to get close to others and are comfortable depending on others and having others depend on them. Secure adults don't often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to them" (Attachment theory, 2002, Great ideas). Insecure adults are hampered by such fears, and their characters are shaped by negative early attachment experiences. In a workplace with too many abandonment-fixated or avoidant personalities, a toxic and unproductive environment arises.

An employee must be able to accept criticism without taking it personally, and enforce rules and procedures without allowing personal feelings to dominate. In contrast "avoidant adults are somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; they find it difficult to trust others completely, difficult to allow themselves to depend on others," and may be the classic independent 'anti-team players' because they try to use the workplace to advance their careers, rather than to fulfill an greater organizational mission (Attachment theory, 2002, Great ideas). They feel uncomfortable and mistrustful relying upon the talents of others and cannot…

Sources Used in Document:


Attachment theory. (2002). Great ideas in personality research. Retrieved from:

Hinde, Robert A. (1976). On describing relationships. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 17, 1-19. Retrieved from:

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