Evolutionary Perspective: Bowlby's Theory
- Attachment is adaptive and innate, related to imprinting (for survival).
- Sensitive period for development of attachment, as with all biological systems.
- Caregiving is also innate and adaptive, aided by social releasers.
- Secure base provided for exploration.
- Primary attachment mosti important (monotropy) but secondary attachments also important.
- Internal working model develops based on primary attachment relationship.
- Continuity hypothesis - link between early attachment & later social/emotional development.
Strengths = imprinting in animals (e.g. lorenz), sensitive period (rutter et al), universaility of attachment (tronick et al), monotropy: primary attachments (shaffer & emerson), caregiver sensitivity (harlow) & continuity hypothesis (sroufe et al)
Weaknesses = Other attachments important, e.g. father and siblings, but still may be primary & secondary attachments AND temperament hypothesis offers an alternative explanation, supported by Belsky & Rovine.
- Individual Differences = Different types of attachment - secure & insecure.
- Cultural Variations = Attachment may lead to dependance rather than independance in some cultures.
- All behaviour is learned.
- Classical conditioning - food produces pleasure 'feeder' (mother) associated with food so also produces pleasure. (Ivan Pavlov)
- Operant conditioning - food is a primary reinforcer, 'feeder' becomes secondary reinforcer. (Dollard & Miller suggest that a hungry infant feels uncomfortable & this creates a drive to reduce discomfort.)
- Both reduce discomfort and are rewarding.
Strengths = we do learn through conditioning, although food is not the only factor (attention and responsiveness also important)
Weakness = Harlow showed that food is less important than contact comfort supported by Emerson (1964) who found infants most attached to adult who fed them.
Validity = Largely animal studies.
Privation (failure to form attachment)
Case studies of isolated children = Genie & Czech twins, not reliable evidence.
Insitutional Care = Skeels & Dye, Bowlby et al: recovery possible; hodges & Tizard - all ex-instituional children had difficulties coping with peers, despite good substitute care in some cases; rutter et al - romanian orphans adopted early showed normal emotional development; those adopted after six months showed disinhibited attachment and had peer difficulties.
Effects = Attachment disorder - now recognised on DSM, reactive (inhibited) or disinhibited; poor parenting - quinton et al followed ex-institutional women, found most experienced difficulties as parents; deprivation dwarfism - gardner.
- Privation alone can't explain poor outcome - cumulative effect of risk factors e.g. insecure attachment, lack of sensitivity.
- Research questionable because can't be sure what attachments had formed, nor have sufficient long-term studies been conducted.
- Negative effects on social development:
- Long - term maladjustment - Bowlby's claim, supported by Violata & Russell.
- Increased aggressiveness shown in NICHD study, also disobedience and assertiveness; Melhuish also found increased risk in UK sample.
- Peer relations - day care children less likely to be securely attached (Belsky & Rovine) and this is linked to pooer peer relations (Sroufe et al).
- Positive effects on social development:
- Good day care provides social stimulation; children at home may feel more isolated, mothers may be depressed ( Brown & Harris).
- More advanced social development - Clarke-Stewart et al and Sylva et al, also found more independence and compliance.
- Peer relations - day care children had more friends at school (Field), negotiated better with peers and were more sociable.
Weaknesses - Some studies have found no link with aggression, day-care children may be more aggressive than non-day care but 83% were not aggressive at all (Friedman). Mother's sensitivity and home factors are a better predictor of aggressiveness (Belsky). Data is correlational, not causal. Many studies have found no effects.
Implications of Day Care
Implications of attachment research:
- Visiting arrangements for children in hospital
- Adoptions: Avoiding late adoptions.
- Parenting - e.g. circle of security to improve maternal sensitivity
- Improvinsg day care quality. e.g. soho family centre focuses on role of secondary attachment figures.
Implications of day-care research:
- Improve quality througL: low child-to-staff ratios 3:1. Minimal staff turnover - constistency of care. Sensitive emotional care - only 20% provide highly sensitive care. Qualified staff.
- Quality monitored by Sure Start and NESS.
Types of Attachment
- Ainsworth's early studies in Uganda & Baltimore - showed importance of secure attachment and sensitive responsiveness.
- Strange Situation - assessed response to mild stress, separation and stranger anxiety.
- Secure attachment (62%)
- Insecure-avoidant (15%)
- Insecure-resistant (9%)
Validity = Measures a particular relationship not an individual - e.g. main & weston evidence with father. But primary attachment creates attachment type - Bowlby. Construct validity demonstrated by research support for 3 types. Predictive validity demonstrated e.g. Hazan & Shaver (love quiz).
Reliability = High inter-rater reliability (.94) in strange situation.
Effects = Longitudinal studies show continuities e.g. secure attachment --> positive outcomes. Love quiz (Hazan & Shaver) looked at adult romantic styles.
Contributory Factors = Sensitivity, Maternal reflective functioning, temperament.
- Similarities - ainsworth (uganda) & tronick et al (the efe).
- Differences - insecure attachments, Grossmann and Grossmann (german interpersonal distance), Takahasi (japanese dependence).
- On balance research supports monotropy, although distinct cultural differences.
- Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg - meta analysis, global patterns of attachment similar suggesting attachment is innate, biology process.
Culture bias = Attachment theory rooted in us culture: sensitivity hypothesis, continuity hypothesis and secure base are all related to western ideals. Should instead create a set of indigenous theories. However, core attachment concepts may be universal, e.g. evidence from other countries.
Other criticisms = nations versus culture
Disruption of Attachment
- Spitz & Wolf - severe depression in infants after being placed in a institution.
- Skeels & Dye - Intellectuals deficits recovered when institutionalised children given extra emotional care.
- Bohman & Sigvardsson - adopted 'problem' children showed good recovery.
- Bifulco et al - women who lost mothers were more likely to become depressed.
- Early emotional deprivation can harm early social/emotional development.
- But substitute emotional care can compensate.
- But individual may be vulnerable to emotional disorders.
Validity = High validity because naturalistic studies. & Low validity because case studies with unique characteristics.
Individual Differences = Securely attached children cope better (Bowlby et al)