Health and Social Care: Emotional

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  • Created on: 01-12-17 09:17


Emotional Theories

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

1. A child has an innate (i.e. inborn) need to attach to one main attachment figure.  

2. A child should receive the continuous care of this single most important attachment figure for approximately the first two years of life.

Bowlby (1951) claimed that mothering is almost useless if delayed until after two and a half to three years and, for most children, if delayed till after 12 months, i.e. there is a critical period.

3. The long term consequences of maternal deprivation might include the following:

• criminal behaviour

• increased aggression

• affectionless psychopathy

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment.2

4. Robertson and Bowlby (1952) believe that short term separation from an attachment figure leads to distress (i.e. the PDD model).

They found 3 progressive stages of distress:

•Protest: The child cries, screams and protests angrily when the parent leaves. They will try to cling on to the parent to stop them leaving.

•Despair: The child’s protesting begins to stop and they appear to be calmer although still upset. The child refuses others’ attempts for comfort and often seems withdrawn and uninterested in anything.

•Detachment: If separation continues the child will start to engage with other people again. They will reject the caregiver on their return and show strong signs of anger.

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment.3

5. The child’s attachment relationship with their primary caregiver leads to the development of an internal working model (Bowlby, 1969).

 This internal working model is a cognitive framework comprising mental representations for understanding the world, self and others.  A person’s interaction with others is guided by memories and expectations from their internal model which influence and help evaluate their contact with others (Bretherton, & Munholland, 1999).

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For Bowlby's Theory

 -Bifulco et al. (1992) supports the maternal deprivation hypothesis. They studied 250 women who had lost mothers, through separation or death, before they were 17. They found that loss of their mother through separation or death doubles the risk of depressive and anxiety disorders in adult women. The rate of depression was the highest in women whose mothers had died before the child reached the age of 6.

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Against Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

 Rutter He accused Bowlby of not distinguishing between deprivation and privation – the complete lack of an attachment bond, rather than its loss.  Rutter stresses that the quality of the attachment bond is the most important factor, rather than just deprivation (loss) in the critical period: This is supported by Radke-Yarrow (1985) who found that 52% of children whose mothers suffered with depression were insecurely attached. This figure raised to 80%  when this occurred in a context of poverty (Lyons-Ruth,1988). This shows the influence of social factors. Bowlby did not take into account the quality of the substitute care. Deprivation can be avoided if there is good emotional care after separation.

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Against Bowlby's Theory

-Rutter (1972) points out that several indicators of attachment (such as protest or distress when attached person leaves) have been shown for a variety of attachment figures – fathers, siblings, peers and even inanimate objects. -Schaffer & Emerson (1964) noted that specific attachments started at about 8 months and, very shortly thereafter, the infants became attached to other people. By 18 months very few (13%) were attached to only one person; some had five or more attachments.

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Salter Ainsworth (1978)

The security of attachment in one- to two-year-olds were investigated using the 'strange situation' procedure, in order to determine the nature of attachment behaviors and styles of attachment.

The experiment is set up in a small room with one way glass so the behaviour of the infant can be observed covertly. Infants were aged between 12 and 18 months. The sample comprised of 100 middle-class American families.

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Salter Ainsworth 2

The procedure, known as the ‘Strange Situation,’ was conducted by observing the behaviour of the infant in a series of eight episodes lasting approximately 3 minutes each:

(1) Mother, baby, and experimenter (lasts less than one minute).

(2) Mother and baby alone.

(3) A stranger joins the mother and infant.

(4) Mother leaves baby and stranger alone.

(5) Mother returns and stranger leaves.

(6) Mother leaves; infant left completely alone.

(7) Stranger returns.

(8) Mother returns and stranger leaves.

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Salter Ainsworth 3

Ainsworth (1970) identified three main attachment styles, secure (type B), insecure avoidant (type A) and insecure ambivalent/resistant (type C). She concluded that these attachment styles were the result of early interactions with the mother.

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Salter Ainsworth 4

B: Secure Attachment-Securely attached children comprised the majority of the sample in Ainsworth’s (1971, 1978) studies. Such children feel confident that the attachment figure will be available to meet their needs

A: Insecure Avoidant-Insecure avoidant children do not orientate to their attachment figure while investigating the environment. They are very independent of the attachment figure both physically and emotionally (Behrens, Hesse, & Main, 2007). They do not seek contact with the attachment figure when distressed. Such children are likely to have a caregiver who is insensitive and rejecting of their needs (Ainsworth, 1979).

C: Insecure Ambivalent / Resistant-The third attachment style identified by Ainsworth (1970) was insecure ambivalent (also called insecure resistant).

Here children adopt an ambivalent behavioral style towards the attachment figure. The child will commonly exhibit clingy and dependent behavior, but will be rejecting of the attachment figure when they engage in interaction.

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