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CONSIDER THE EXTENT TO WHICH PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN EXPLAINING ATTATCHMENTS Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

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Introduction

CONSIDER THE EXTENT TO WHICH PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN EXPLAINING ATTATCHMENTS Bowlby's Theory of Attachment The theory of attachment was originally developed by John Bowlby (1907 - 1990). Bowlby was a British psychoanalyst who was attempting to understand the intense distress experienced by infants who had been separated from their parents. Bowlby's first formal statement of the attachment theory, building on concepts from ethology and developmental psychology, was presented to the British Psychoanalytic Society in London in three now classic papers: "The Nature of the Child's Tie to His Mother" (1958), "Separation Anxiety" (1959), and "Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood" (1960). According to Bowlby infants have an innate tendency to become attached to one particular individual. This was referred to as monotropy. During his research Bowlby observed how infants who became separated from their primary caregiver, such as it's mother, would go to extraordinary lengths to either prevent separation from or to restore contact with that caregiver. ...read more.

Middle

This would be the building blocks for all of the infants' future relationships. It was believed that if an infant has a good bond with its caregiver then he/she would go on to develop strong and healthy relationships throughout his/hers life. However, if a poor bond was formed then it is likely that the infant would not be capable of developing strong relationships in his/her future. Bowlby at first asserted that there was a certain time by which an infant ought to have created a strong attachment in order to develop healthy relationships in the future. This was referred to as the critical period, which was believed to have been formed by the age of 3 years old. Later, he modified this view and stated that there might be a sensitive, as opposed to a critical, period for the development of secure attachment so that, for example, adopted or fostered children who have had very poor early but good later experiences may yet develop the capacity to make secure attachment relationships. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the correlations among a child's various relationships are actually quite low. For example, parent-child relationships do not always completely match with child-peer relationships (Howes et al. 1994). As Bowlby theory takes into consideration the evolutionary argument, he is basing his belief on an assumption rather than a proven fact. He is making the judgement by looking backwards and arguing that a specific behaviour must be adaptive because it persists. He cannot know this is true, but is assuming it is likely. Studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) have provided evidence that show's fathers to be competent attachment figures. Additionally, there is evidence that infants can be attached to a hierarchy of figures, including grandparents, and siblings (Schaffer & Emerson, 1964), as well as to day-care providers (Howes, Rodning, Galuzzo, & Myers, 1988). Despite these criticisms, Bowlby's theory continues to have an enormous impact on psychology and the emotional care of young children. ...read more.

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