Evolutionary explanation of attachment - Bowlby's attachment theory

HideShow resource information

Bowlby's attachment theory (1969) ASCSMIC

A - Attachment is adaptive and innate

According to Bowlby, children have an innate drive to become attached to a caregiver because attachment has long-term benefits, similiar to the benefits of imprinting. Both attachment and impriting ensure that a young animal stays close to a caregiver who will feed and protext the young animal. Thus atachment and impring are adaptive behaviours - behaviours that increase the likelihood of survival. Infants are born with an innate drive to become attached.

S - Sensitive period.
Since attachment is innate, there is likely to be a limited window for its development i.e. critical or sensitive period.Bowlby applied the concept of sensitive period to attachment. He suggested that the second quarter of the first year is when infants are most sensitive to the development of attachments. As the months pass it becomes increasingly difficult to form infant-caregiver attachments.

C - Cargiving is adaptive
Infants are born with certain characteristics, called social releasers. These social releasers included smiling and crying. Another example of a social releaser is a baby;s face. Attachment is innate in behavioural system in babies; caregiving is the innate response in adults. Both provide protection and thereby enhance survival.  

1 of 6

Bowlby's attachment theory (1969) ASCSMIC

S - Secure base
Attachment is important for protection, and thus acts as a secure base from which a child can explre the world and a safe base to return to when threatened. Thus attachment fosters independence rather than dependence though some people mistakely interpret attachtment as dependence.

M - Monotropy
Bowlby believed that informs form a number of attachments but one of these has special importance. This bias towards one individual, the primary attachment, is called monotropy. Infants also have other secondory attachment figures that form a hierarchy of attachments, The one special attachment is most usually an infant's mother. Bowlby believed that sensitive responsiveness was the key - an infant becomes most strongly attached to the person who responds most sensitively to the infant's social releasers. This person becomes hte infants primary attachment figure, providing the main foundation for emotional development, self-esteem and later relationships with peers, lovers and one's own children.
Secondary attachment figures are also important in emotional development; they act as a kind of safety net and also contribute to social development.  

2 of 6

Bowlby's attachment theory (1969) ASCSMIC

I - Internal working model
Attachment starts as the relationship between a caregiver and infant. This relationship may be one of trust or uncertaintu and inconsistency, and creates expectations about what all relationships should ne like. Gradually the infant develops a model about emotional relationships; Bowlby called this the internal working model. This 'model' is a cluster of concets about relationships and what to expect from others - about whether relationships involce consistent or incosistent love, whether others make you feel good or anxious and so on. The internal working model means there is consistenct between early emotional experiences and later relationships

C - Continuity hypothesis 
Continuity hypothesis is the view that there is a link between the early attachment relationship and later emotional behaviour; individuals who are securely attached in infancy continue to be socially and emotionally competent, whereas insecurely attached children have more social and emotional difficulties later in childhood and adulthood.

3 of 6

Strengths of Bowlby's theory of attachment

Imprinting in non-human animals
The research dony by Lorenz supports the view that imprinting is innate becasue the goslings imprinted on the first moving object the say - whetr it was a goose or Lorenz himself. A similar process is likely to have evolved in many species as a mechanism to protect young animals and enhance their chance of survival

Sensitive period
Research has show that once the sensitive period has passed it is difficult to form attachments. For example, Hodges and Tizard found that children who had formed no attachments had later difficulties with peers.

Monotropy
Bowlby suggested that infants form multile attachments but these form a heirarchy, with one attachment having special importance in emotional development. There is much evidence to support this view such as the study by Tronick et ak. The study by Schaffer and Emmerson also found that most infants had mant attachments - to mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings other relativesm friends and/or neighbours. However the maintained one primary object of attachment. This was most often the infant's mother, though it was frequently the infant's father. 

4 of 6

Strengths of Bowlby's theory of attachment

Caregiver sensitivity
Schaffer and Emerson observed that strongly attached infants had mothers, who responded quickly to their demands and who offered their child the most interaction. Infants who were weakly attached had mothers who failed to interact with them.
We might also consider Harlow's study. The infant monkeys formed only a one-way attachment with an unresponsive wire 'mother'. The result was that they all became quite maladjusted adults - they had difficulties in reproductive relationships and were poor parents. This underlines the importance of interaction in attachment. It isn't enought to have someting to cuddle, you need to be cuddled back.

The continuity hypothesis
The Minnesota longitudinal Study has followed participants from infancy to late adolescene and found continuity between early attachment and later emotional/social behaviour. Individuals who were classified as secure in infancy were kess isolated and more popular, and more empathetic. This denonstrates continuity.

5 of 6

Weaknesses of Bowlby's theory of attachment

Multiple attachments
In the muiltiple attachment model there are no primary and secondary attachments - all attachments re intergrated into one single working model. However, this may not be so very different from what Bowlby intended. Secondary attachment, in his theory, do contribute to social development, but healthy development requires one central person standing anove all the others in a hierarchy. Research on infant-father attachment, for example, suggests a key a key role for fathers in social development (Grossman and Grossman). Relationships with with siblings are important for learning how negotiate with peers. Prior and Glaser conclude from a review of research that the evidence still points to the heirarchical model as suggested by Bowlby's concept of monotropy

Alternative explanantion
Temperament hypothesis is the belief that childeren form secure attachments simply because they have a more 'easy' temperament from birth, whereas innately difficulty childern are more likely to form insecure attachments and later relationships. There is evidence that children are born with innante temperamental differences. 

6 of 6

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »