The way that an infant attaches to caregivers depends on the way that the caregivers interact with the child early on in life. The different attachment styles describe ways in which a child forms attachments, which then lead to certain types of behaviors based on these attachment bonds. When these children grow up to be adults, their attachment style may or may not change, depending on the types of relationships they encounter along the way.
A secure attachment occurs when parents are sensitively attuned to their child, consistently attend to needs, make eye contact, pay attention, and make the child feel safe. When a child is securely attached, he or she is able to regulate emotions, and feels confident in exploring surroundings. Insecure attachments develop when relationship with caregivers is not secure or consistent.
As an adult, those with secure attachments have low anxiety when interacting with others, and are comfortable with intimacy. They are also comfortable expressing emotions, and seek interdependent relationships.
Individuals with preoccupied attachment seek excessive intimacy, and have high levels of anxiety in social interactions. They look for approval and are dependent on others.
Those with a fearful-avoidant attachment have a high level of anxiety in social interactions, and usually view themselves as not worthy of love. Although there is a need to be close to others, intimacy is feared and emotional closeness is seen as uncomfortable.
Those with a dismissive attachment style have a high avoidance but a low level of anxiety with social interactions. Intimacy is not comfortable and the need for relationships is not high. These individuals have a high need for independence, and may deny the need for close relationships.