Learning Theory of Attachment
The theory that infants become attached to the mother because she provides food, or primary reinforcement, and thus acquires secondary reinforcement properties.
Classical Conditioning: getting food naturally gives the baby pleasure. A desire for food is for filled when the mother is around, so an association between the mother and pleasure is created, and an attachment formed.
Operant Conditioning: babies feel discomfort them they are hungry, so have a desire for food to remove the discomfort. If they cry, their mothers feed them, and remove the discomfort (negative reinforcement). The mother is associated with food, so the baby will want her to be close, thus forming an attachment.
Learning Theory of Attachment Evaluation
Reductionist because complex behaviours have been over simplified.
Doesn't consider inner workings or cognitions.
Attachments can develop to people other than the main caregiver.
Food isn't the main source of attachment. Babies only need food periodically, but need protection and emotional security constantly.
Evolutionary Theory of Attachment
We have evolved a biological need to attach ourselves to our main caregiver, usually our mother (monotropy). It has a survival advantage as staying close to the caregiver ensures food and protection.
Strong attachments form a 'safe base', giving us confidence to explore our environment.
The first 3 years are called the critical period for an attachment to develop. Failure to attach affects/damages a child's social and emotional development.
It gives us a template for all future relationships.
Evolutionary Theory of Attachment Evaluation
The continuity hypothesis supports Bowlby, where there is a consistency between early emotional experiences and later relationships.
Fathers can also be attachment figures despite Bowlby saying they were only 'emotional and financial support for the mother'.
Emmison found that attachments were more likely to form to those displaying sensitive responsiveness, and that children can have multiple attachments.
There is mixed evidence for the critical period.
The effects of a lack of attachment may not be as detrimental as Bowlby made out.
Types of Attachment: Secure (Type B)
A strong bond between child and caregiver.
If separated the child becomes distressed.
It is easily comforted on reunion with the caregiver.
Children are willing to explore the environment.
Care-givers are sensitive to their needs.
70% of attachments are secure.
Deprivation: Robertson & Robertson.
Children (including 18 month old john) were filmed during a short-separation stay from their mothers in a residential nursery.
The all showed signs of progressing through the PDD Model.
John was reluctant to be affectionate on reunion with his mother after the nine day period.
Short-term deprivation had a bad impact of john, possibly leading to permanent damage to the attachment with his mother.
Separating a child from its caregiver should be avoided whenever possible. Children should be allowed to visit their caregiver during hospital stays etc. (application)
Children who are fostered do better, suggesting that children can cope with the separation providing they have one-to-one care and emotional support.
The addition of a child may have affected john's attachment to his mother, not separation.
Small study, done in one nursery: may be reflective of the quality/type of care provided.
Many factors: age, quality of care, individual temperament and frequency of separation.
Maternal Deprivation: Bowlby.
Case studies were completed on the background of 44 adolescents, who had been referred to a clinic because they had been stealing.
There was a control group of 44 'emotional disturbed' adolescents who didn't steal.
17/44 thieves experienced maternal deprivation before the age of 2. 2/44 in the control group.
14/44 thieves classed 'affectionless psychopaths' - 12/14 has experienced maternal deprivation.
Maternal deprivation in early life can lead to long-term, harmful consequences.
Relied on retrospective and recalled data, meaning memories of separation may have been inaccurate.
Bowlby was the only person who decided whether the thieves were psychopaths or not, so was subjective.
A control of 'normal' adolescents would have been beneficial to compare the level of psychopaths in the general population.
Types of Attachment: Insecure-Avoidant (Type A)
If separated, the child doesn't become distressed.
They are often comforted by a stranger.
The children are willing to explore.
Caregivers tend to ignore their needs.
This type of attachment is associated with children who avoid social interaction and intimacy with others.
15% of children are insecure-avoidant.