Theories of attachment

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  • Created by: IRSS
  • Created on: 30-03-15 15:11

Psychodynamic theory - Freud

Children go through psychosexual stages - oral stage (birth-2yrs).

  • Breast feeding makes the mother the primary love object for provding a souce of oral satisfaction.
  • Mother's status is unique without parallel.
  • Established unalterably for a whole life time as the first and strongest love object.
  • The prototype of all future relationships.
  • If a secure relationship is not formed as the first attachment, a secure attachment will never be formed.
  • critisiced by learning theorists as he believes this is due to biology
  • infants can attach to multiple figures 
  • psychosexual stages cannot be proven 
  • disproved by Harlow / Schaffer and Emerson 
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Learning theory - Dollard & Miller

All behaviour is learnt through experiences 

  • Classical conditioning - learnt via association
  • Operant conditioning - learnt via trial and error 
  • Classical conditioning reinforces attachment between baby and carer as carer provides food. 
  • During feeding carer gives positive releasers and these are associated with the carer. 
  • Too much emphasis on feeding - not supported by Harlow / Schaffer and Emerson.
  • Difficult to explain stranger anxiety and sudden reactions. 
  • proves attachment may not be biologically determined.
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Social learning theory - Hay & Vespo

Direct reinforcement is important in the attachment process

  • Caregiver's loving behaviour teaches child how to be affectionate - then attach 
  • Child will learn to reciprocate the love by copying the mother's actions
  • Doesn't explain emotional intensity involved in attachment 
  • No doubt some attachment behaviours shown by children are the result modelling, direct teaching and encouragement 
  • supported by Harlow / Schaffer and Emerson
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Ethological/Biological/Evolutionary theory - Loren

  • Attachment related to imprinting 
  • Nesting birds - attached to moving object if exposed within critical period
  • Attachment happens automatically and is irreversable 
  • Generalising from animals to humans- inaccurate 
  • Concept of critical period - too rigid 
  • Better than learning theory to explain the intensity of emotional bonds 
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Bowlby's theory

  • Attachment is innate - adaptive process 
  • Principles of imprinting can be applied to humans - critical period 
  • Infants use social releaser behaviours to demand caregiving - genetic
  • Monotropy - only form a special attachment to one person 
  • Main attachment shapes development - shapes emotional and social development for future relationships
  • attachment affects cognitive development 
  • Adults are sensitive to social releaser behaviours - mother's genetic programming 

Eval notes seperate 

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Bowlby Evaluation

  • Scaffer and Emerson found children form multiple attachments and may not attach to their mother - against monotropy
  • Harlow - monkeys did have a primary care giver but attached to eachother instead - against monotropy
  • Critical period - too rigid - now called sensitive period 
  • Harlow agree with Bowlby that social and emotional development may be damaged if no attachment is formed
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