Bowlby's theory of attachment

AQA,A Attachment --> Bowlby

HideShow resource information
Preview of Bowlby's theory of attachment

First 518 words of the document:

Bowlby's Theory
John Bowlby's theory of attachment is strongly linked with Darwin's theory of
evolution; he believed attachment was both innate (an instinctive behaviour passed on
through genes) and adaptive (a behaviour which promotes survival), stating that attachment
allowed infants to form secure future relationships (continuity hypothesis) and feel safe
enough to explore their surroundings. The continuity hypothesis is supported by Hazen and
Shaver's `Love Quiz' experiment, 1987, where they asked participants to
complete simple exercises to get an idea of their relationship with their parents and their adult
romantic relationships. Hazan and Shaver found that there was a strong relationship between
childhood and adulthood relationships. In contrast, the work of Howes, Matheson and
Hamilton, 1994 showed that parent-child relationships were not always positively correlated
with child-peer relationships, suggesting that children have templates for different types of
relationships. This is supported by the work of Schaffer, 1996, who suggested there were
different types of relationships, for example vertical for those towards people of higher authority
such as parents and teachers, and horizontal towards people at a similar authority such as siblings and
peers. Furthermore, Main and Goldwyn, 1984 argued that people with insecure early
attachments can still have secure attachments later in life through `earned security'.
In Bowlby's theory, babies are thought to be able to form attachments due to their innate
ability to use social releasers; behaviours that encourage a response from a caregiver,
including crying. When a baby cries, the caregiver becomes uncomfortable, and therefore picks up
the baby to try to stop it crying; negative reinforcement. The baby enjoys the attention
from the caregiver, and is hence likely to cry again in the hope of a similar response; positive
reinforcement. However, the genes for attachment have not yet been
found so it is debatable whether attachment is innate or not.
Bowlby used the theory of imprinting for birds, where they follow the first moving
object they see, to say that a similar thing happens for humans. He believed imprinting must happen
within a certain period of time called the critical period. This was thought to be up to 3 years
of age for human infants. This critical period, however, has been accused of being too rigid,
therefore the sensitive period is now more accepted. This is the time in which attachment is most
likely to happen, but it is still possible to happen outside of the sensitive period.
Bowlby believed that humans had a tendency to form a unique attachment to one person,
which was more significant than all other attachments; it is at the top of the hierarchy of attachments.
This was what he called the monotropy hypothesis. This unique bond was generally
thought to be towards the mother, and was said to form a template for all future relationships in the
form of the child's relationship schema, the internal working model. This is known as the

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

The existence of this bond is supported by the work of Tronick,
Morelli and Ivey, 1992, who studied the Efe, an African tribe from Zaire. In this tribe,
infants were looked after and breastfed by many different mothers, however they slept with their
own mother. After 6 months, the infants showed a preference towards their own mother,
supporting Bowlby's monotropy hypothesis.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »