Bowlbys Theory of Attachment

Bowlby (1958)

7 Key Points

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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Innate

  • The term 'innate' refers to unborn characteristics and are a product of genetic factors
  • Bowlby states that attachment is evolutionary-it is a behavioural state that has continued because of its survival/reproductive value.
  • His theory states that children have an innate drive to become attached to the caregiver, because attachment has long term benefits
  • The attachment drive, as well as imprinting, makes sure that the infant stays close to the caregiver who offers them food and protection. They are adaptive behaviours. 
  • Infants who do not become attached are less likely to survive and consequently reproduce.
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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Sensitive Period

  • Bowlby suggests that the second quarter of the first year of an infants life is when the infant is most sensitive to the development of attachments. After this, it becomes increasingly difficult for the caregiver to form an attachment to their child.
  • This is a biologically determined period of time.
  • It leaves a limited window for development.
  • This in in comparison to the critical period, which offers a more finite time span for change to take place.
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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Social Releasers

  • These are a characteristic that elicit a care giving response in the attachment figure and according to Bowlby, are critical to forming attachments. These could include smiling, crying, and the babies facial proportions. (Big eyes, large forehead)
  • Bowlby suggests this care giving behavioural response from the attachment figure is both adaptive (increases survival of the offspring) and innate. (Biologically determined)
  • Attachment is the innate behavioural response in babies, whereas caregiving is the innate behavioural response in adults

-They both provide protection and enhance survival.

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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Secure Base

  • This is when the attachment figure acts as a secure base for the infant to explore the world from and return to if they are feeling scared or threatened.
  • In this way, attachment is actually encouraging independence, rather than dependence. 
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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Monotropy

  • Although infants can form many attachments, there is one which is the most important, the primary attachment. 
  • It makes the infant biased towards one individual, the primary attachment figure, this is called monotropy.
  • The primary attachment is usually the mother. 
  • The infants other attachments become secondary attachments, forming a hierachy.
  • Bowlby suggests that the infant becomes most attached to the person who responds most sensitively to their social releasers. The primary attachment figure gives the infant the foundations for emotional development, self esteem amd a base for good relationships with their peers, lovers and children. 
  • Secondary attachment figures act as a 'safety net' for emotional and social development, without these children have been shown to lack social skills. 
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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Internal Working Model

  • This is a mental model which contains concepts and ideas about the world. It has things such as:
  • ...our expectations about relationships, what to expect from others, whether they involve inconsistent or consistent love, whether other people make you feel good or bad, etc.
  • Short Term- It gives the child insight into the caregivers behaviour, this enables the child to influence the caregivers behaviour and therefore form a true partnership.
  • Long Term-It acts as a template for all future relationships, as it generates expectations about how to behave. 
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Bowlby's Attachment Theory- Continuity Hypothesis

  • This is the view that there is a correlation between the early attachment relationship, and later emotional behaviour.
  • Individuals who are securely attached in infancy continue to be trusting and socially and emotionally competent in later life.
  •  This is in comparison to insecurely attached children, who have more social and emotional difficulties in later childhood and adulthood.
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this is excellent- very helpful

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