Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

Bowlby's Theory of Attachment and Maternal Deprivation

I have compiled these notes as part of my AS Psychology course. The notes are a brief overview of the Theory of Attachment, and are part of the AQA Psychology A Specification.

If you find these helpful, try searching for my notes on Outlining and Evaluating the Theory, which will help if you are revising for the longer, 12 mark prose questions on the exam paper.


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  • Created by: James
  • Created on: 11-01-11 21:19
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Bowlby's Evolutionary Theory of Attachment and Maternal Deprivation Theory
Social releases keep the main care giver (mother) close to the child. They are adaptive or innate
(inborn) and the attachment uses behaviour to ensure survival and innate social releases.
The sensitive period or (Critical period) is ideally upto 12 months, however may be up to 3 years,
although the child will suffer in the following ways should the sensitive period exceeds 3 years:
Cognitive Development
Emotional Development
Social Development
Monotropy Theory
This suggests that the attachment should be between the child and ONE main care giver.
Secure Base
From this (the mother), the child will gain its cognitive, emotional and social developments and
abilities. This provides an internal working model for future relations (a template or schema)
Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Theory
Bowlby was worried about the effect on children who lose their main care giver and do not form
an attachment in the sensitive or critical period.
Research addressed by Bowlby:
o Looks at 15 children in an institution compared to 15 from natural parents to
foster parents.
o The 15 in the institution suffered from low IQ and sociability depression
Spitz and Wolf
o Looks at 91 children in the USA and Canada
o Results show that 1/3 died before the age of 1 year
Harlow's Monkeys
To identify why monkeys attach
Baby monkeys were taken from the mother at birth and placed into cages. In the dage were two
wire monkeys; on covered in cloth for comfort and the other with a bottle for feeding. The
monkeys were then stressed with noise and new experiences to see which "mother" they would
go to.
1 AS Level Psychology

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The results found that the monkeys preferred the comfort monkey to the feeding monkey.…read more


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