Part 2 of attachment- Bowlby's theory and perspective-(Sara)

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Sara
  • Created on: 02-01-11 01:00

The evolutionary perspective-Bowlby's theory

John Bowlby  (1969) proposed that attachment was important for survival. Infants cannot survive without the help of someone to feed, care for and protect them, they cannot survive without assistance. Therefore it is likely that human beings have evolved in such a way that they are born with an innate (Any behaviour that is inherited)  tendency to form an attachment that serves to increase their chances of survival.

Attachment is a reciprocal process, therefore it is likely that adults are innately"programmed" to become attached to their infant- otherwise they would not respond to their child, and the attachment would would not develop.

It is also likely that attachment has a long-term benefit in addition to the short-term benefit of ensuring food and safety. In the long-term it may be important for emotional relationships because it provides a template for relationships as a result of the internal working model. These short-and long-term effects of attachment are similar to the effects of imprinting observed in some non-human animals.

There are three important features of Bowlby's theory:

  • Infants and carers are "programmed" to become attached
  • Due to attachment being a biological process, it has to take place during a critical period of development or not at all.
  • Attachment plays a role in later development-the continuity hypothesis (later on) and monotropy (form one special attachment).


Imprinting in Non-human animals
(A research study by Lorenz (1952) 

Our views on attachment are partly derived from research using non-human animals.

(Remember there are two Lorenz's the father and the son, both are psychologists)

Konrad Lorenz (1952) studied the behaviour of geese. They are likely to imprint on the first moving object they see. This "imprint" has important short-and long- term effects.
In the short-term, the young follow their mother figure.
 Lorenz  (1937) demonstrated this with a clutch of gosling eggs that were divided into two groups.One group were left with their natural mother, the others were kept in an incubator. When the eggs hatched the first living thing they saw was Lorenz and they soon started to follow him around. Lorenz marked the two groups to distinguish them and then placed them together with their natural mother. The gosling's quicklydivided themselves up, One group followed him, the other their mother.

Notes on research

  • Easy to see the evolutionary value of this behaviour. A young animal that follows it's mother is more likely to be safe from predators, more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »