Bowlby's (1907-1990) theory of attachment

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  • Bowlby's (1907-1990) theory of attachment
    • Monotropy
      • Bowlby emphasised the importance of the relationship between a child and a single caregiver. He believed that this attachment occurred instinctively and was necessary for the children to survive
      • During their first six months, babies display proximity- promoting behaviours, such as crying, smiling and clinging. These encourage the formation of a bond between care giver and child.
        • They then begin to show distress and anxiety around strangers and develop a marked preference for the primary caregiver.
      • During the second six month, the baby's world becomes increasingly focused on the primary caregiver, treating them as a safe base from which to explore their world and a source of comfort when fearful or anxious.
        • For Bowlby, if a child feels secure enough to show independent behaviour, they develop a positive internal working model of themselves as valued. He believed that this attachment during the first years of life is critical for healthy development. Attachment after this period are less effective in providing security for the child.
    • Maternal deprivation hypothesis
      • 1.Drawing these ideas together, Bowlby realised that a child who suffers deprivation (loss of attachment) during the first 24 months of life will develop an internal working model of themselves as unworthy. He coined the term maternal deprivation, not because he believed that the mother was the only person who could be primary caregiver but because at the time women typically took the role of care.
      • 2.A child should have a continuous and mutually-loving relationship and, if this attachment is broken, it can have detrimental effects on a child's mental health, such as lack of guilt and regard for the consequences of their own actions.
      • 3.Bowlby called this condition affectionless psychopathy. Bowlby also believed maternal deprivation could lead to low intelligence, delinquency and depression.
      • 4.Harlow and Harlow (1962) reared rhesus monkeys in isolation from the mother so that they suffered maternal deprivation. They found that the monkeys became aggressive and incapable of interacting with others of their own species. They were inadequate mothers to their own offspring.
    • Evolutionary basis of attachment
      • 1.Bowlby drew knowledge from the work of Konrad Lorenz (1935) to suggest that attachment had an evolutionary advantage. The essential idea us that a child muse maintain proximity to a parent in order to survive.
      • In our evolutionary past, there would have been many predators that would prey on the young. Attachment encourages closeness between  caregiver and child so safety can be ensured
      • 3.Konrad Lorenz (1935) found that precocial species, who are mobile very soon after birth, imprinted on the other within the first few days of life. Lorenz referred to this period of imprinting as a critical period, as the birds would attach to the mother (or closest moving object) within this limited period of time.
      • 4. Imprinting is instinctual as it is a pre-programmed behaviour, but if an attachment is not formed within this critical period, it would be unlikely to happen afterwards. Bowlby used the idea of a critical period, it would be unlikely to happen afterwards. Bowlby used the idea of a critical period to describe how human infants attach with in a sensitive period, the first tow years of like, to a proximal caregiver


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