Internal Working Models

  • Internal Working Models change based on new relational experience: “most also agree that IWMs change developmentally based on new relational experiences, a view nicely expressed by Theodore Waters, who stated that IWMs “contain multiple constructs that unfold in a particular developmental sequence, change in latent structure, and undergo extensive generalization and elaboration across development” (Waters, 2021, p. 82).” Taking perspective on attachment theory and research: nine fundamental questions (tandfonline.com)
  • There is no clear consensus about what IWMs are and how they operate. Researchers perspectives on what Internal Working Models are is diverse: “To some, IWMs are relationship-specific and hierarchically organized; to others, they reflect a person’s entire relational experience. IWMs are primarily nonconscious to some, but to others they are associated with the development of consciously accessible social-cognitive skills.” Taking perspective on attachment theory and research: nine fundamental questions (tandfonline.com)
  • Bowlby on internal working models of the world and internal models of the self and their complementary nature: “In the working model of the world that anyone builds, a key feature is his notion of who his attachment figures are, where they may be found, and how they may be expected to respond. Similarly, in the working model of the self that anyone builds a key feature is his notion of how acceptable or unacceptable he himself is in the eyes of his attachment figures. . . . Confidence that an attachment figure is . . . likely to be responsive can be seen to turn on two variables: (a) whether or not the attachment figure is judged to be the sort of person who in general responds to calls for support and protection; (b) whether or not the self is judged to be the sort of person towards whom . . . the attachment figure is likely to respond in a helpful way. Logically these variables are independent. In practice, they are apt to be confounded. As a result, the model of the attachment figure and the model of the self are likely to develop so as to be complementary and mutually confirming. “(pp. 203–204 Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss. Vol. 2: Separation: anxiety and anger.)

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