Bowlby's evolutionary theory (nature)

Information on Bowlby's evolutionary theory for aqa a psychology.

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John Bowlby came up with the evoluntonary theory which a nature explanation of attachment. This is a good way of remembering the key facts about this theory:

Innate (instinctive)

Critical period

Adaptive (helps you survive)

Monotropy (one main attachment= mother)

Internal working model



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  • Bowlby believed that babies were born with insitinctive behaviours (crying and laughing) and when adults see these, different instinctive responses occur. These behaviours cause a baby and a adult to spend a lot of time together. these behaviours are called social releasers
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critical period

  • babies had to form an attachment within the first 18 months of their lives.
  • If there is no attachment after 2 and a half years the child will never be able to form a strong emotional bond with another individual.
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  • Bowlby believed that attachment was adaptive because it helped you to survive.
  • This is because a strong attachment to your mother helps you survuve because she is a  source of food, protection and shelter.
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  • bowlby believed that babies form only one strong attachment in their lives, this is to their mother.
  • an infant becomes most attached to the person who responds in the most sensitive way.
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Internal working model

  • A baby's ideas and expectations of the world.
  • they develop their opinions and ideas from there mother and often mirror their mothers behaviour.
  • for example if the mother was stressed a lot, the baby may be influenced to and grow up to be stressed. or if the mother was sporty, then they baby may develop an interest in sport later on too.
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later development

  • Your attachment continues how you develop throughout your life.
  • for example a type b child is likely to become a social leader later on and they will have a high self esteem and will be able to get on well with other people.
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