Confusion over Schaffer’s stages of attachment

The AQA AS specification requires students to know the stages of attachment as outlined by Rudolf Schaffer. There is some confusion about this because the various textbooks provide different versions.

Background: The reason for the different versions is that Schaffer didn’t really provide a set of stages, in his book (1996) he outlined what Bowlby had said. In a Developmental Psychology book by David Shaffer (6th ed. 2002) a different version is given (on page 389) and attributed to Schaffer and Emerson (1964) but they did not give a stage theory as such but did outline development of attachment. So, basically there are a variety of versions that do all follow a similar pattern and any of them will be creditworthy:

1. Pre-attachment, asocial stage

2. Indiscriminate/beginnings of attachment – a more social stage but lack of specific attachments (in Schaffer and Emerson’s 1964 article they use the term ‘indiscriminate’ for stage 1)

3. Specific attachment

4. Multiple attachment

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