Evaluation of Bowlby's Theory

Strengths

Weaknesses

Studies

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Evaluation of Bowlby's Theory- Strengths

  • There is research evidence to support the sensitive period.
  • There are studies carried out in different countries, which show that this research may have universal results.
  • Research evidence to support monotropy, the hierachy and secondary attachments.
  • Research evidence to support the effects of caregiver sensitivity to attachment bonds.
  • Research evidence to support the continuity hypothesis.
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Evaluation of Bowlby's Theory- Supporting Studies

Sensitive Period

Hodges + Tizzard- Children who had formed no attachments later had social difficulties w/ their peers. 

Universality/culturally relative

Tronick et al- Studied an African tribe, where infants were looked after by other women, but slept w/ their mothers at night. Infants at 6 months still showed evidence of a primary attachment. Attachment may not be influenced by different cultural practices.

Monotropy + The Hierachy

Schaffer + Emerson- Although had many other attachments, e.g to their siblings + family, they still had 1 primary object of attachment, either the infants mother or father. This was not the person that always fed or bathed the child, S+ E said there seemed to be little relationship between time spent together and attachment. Suggests the QUALITY of care is more important than the QUANTITY of care given.

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Evaluation of Bowlby's Theory- Supporting Studies

Caregiver Sensitivity

Schaffer + Emerson - Strongly attached infants were the ones that had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and interacted with the child more. Vice versa for the children who were weakly attached. 

Harlow- The infants monkeys only formed a 'one way' relationship with the wire mother. They became socially maladjusted adults, they had trouble in reproductive relationships and were poor parents. It is not enough for one person to care, they need to be cared about back. Although they are animals and are less complex than humans, there is still human research that supports this. (See above.)

The Continuity Hypothesis

Sroufe et al- A longitudinal study which observed children from infancy to late adolescence. There was continuity between early attachment and later social and emotional behaviours.

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