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OUTLINE AND EVALUATE BOWLBY'S THEORY OF
Bowlby suggested the evolutionary theory. He believed that the attachment
between a mother and a child based on a number of ideas.
The first of these is innate programming. Bowlby believes that the attachment is
formed as a result of desirable characteristics that are passed on genetically to offspring as
the need to form an attachment is necessary for survival. We are programmed to form an
attachment without primary caregiver as a result of this and we also produce social releasers
to ensure a bond is formed.
Another of the ideas associated with evolutionary theory is that of the internal
working model. This is a cognitive map of self, others and a network of relationships that is
formed early in infancy and is affected by the relationship with the caregiver. This is the idea
proposed by the continuity hypothesis. An infant will form a main monotropic attachment
with the primary caregiver and this provides the basis for all future relationships.
Bowlby also proposes a critical period for the formation of the monotropic
attachment. A critical period is the time in which an event must occur or it will never occur at
all. Bowlby proposed that the critical period for the formation of attachments is within the
first 2 ½ years of a child's life, after this an attachment can't be formed.
Bowlby's research into attachments has had great impact on how children are
treated in hospitals and day-care, despite this there are still criticisms of bowlby's
evolutionary theory. With regards to the critical period, studies looking at orphaned or
abandoned children that were raised in institutions before being adopted after at least one
year of age showed that the infants were still able to form healthy attachments even after
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This gives rise to the sensitive period, however it was found
that the longer the formation of an attachment was delayed, the slower the development
of the child.
Despite this critisicm there are other studies that support the theory. For example,
the longitudinal study carried about by Sroufe et al. investigated the attachment of infants at
a young age and then assessed their behaviour later on in life.…read more