Bowlby's monotropic theory (1951)

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Bowlby argues that something like imprinting occurs in humans. He went on to develop several main claims:

1) Attachment can be explained by evolution:

We have evolved a biological need to attach to our main caregiver. This biological need has developed through natural selection to ensure the survival of the child to maturity.

2) We create one special attachment:

Bowlby's idea of monotropy is that we form one main attachment - usually to our biological mother. Forming this attachment has survival value, as staying close to the mother ensures food and protection. A strong attachment provides a 'safe base', giving us confidence to explore our environment.

3) We create an internal working model of attachment:

Bowlby's theory also says that forming an infant attachment gives us a 'template' for all future relationships - we learn to trust and care for others. This forms an internal working model for all later attachments. The model is a 'working' model because it can change and develop over time, depending on how the person's relationships change. The primary caregiver provides…


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