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Describe and evaluate theories of attatchment

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Describe and evaluate on theory of attachment (18) John Bowlby (1969) presented what is arguably the most controversial yet leading theory in developmental psychology. He argues that attachment is an innate process, naturally selected for its ability to keep animals in close proximity with their mothers, who will meet their basic survival needs, protect them from predators and teach them important life skills. He says that babies obtain inherited 'social releasers', such as cute faces with big eyes and small noses and behaviours such as clinginess, crying, smiling, cooing, which obtain care-giving from adults. Bowlby borrowed the idea of imprinting from ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, who showed that goslings will imprint onto the first moving thing they see and that this learning is irreversible. Even though evolutionary accounts seem reasonable and appealing, they must be treated with caution as they are disreputably difficult to test as they are post-hoc explanations of events which have already occurred. ...read more.


Bowlby suggested that humans have an innate tendency to make a special bond with one primary caregiver in childhood. He called this 'Monotropy'. He says we may have several important relationships, but one takes priority and is qualitatively different to the others. Information about this special relationship is represented in the mind as an internal working model, or blueprint which determines how we react to others in the future. Finally, Bowlby indicates that infants must from a secure attachment within a critical period between 0-3 years of life; otherwise they may well develop emotional and behavioural problems in later life. He also predicts that trouble to this bond up to the age of 5 can have harmful effects on later development. Monotropy has been supported by cross-cultural research with African tribeswomen and their children. ...read more.


Bowlby's concept of the IWM has also been heavily criticized as it implies that all relationships in the future should be approached in a similar way. Although there is some evidence to suggest a correlation between early attachment style and later experiences of romantic love (Hazan and Shaver, 1987), there is also no evidence of a correlation between parent-child attachment style and child-peer relationships. In conclusion, many of Bowlby's claims are supported by animal research, both in natural settings and separations studies of captive monkeys, controlled observations of (Ainsworth and Bell, 1970), his own clinical case studies, and even cross-cultural studies, providing a wide range of experimental and non-experimental, quantitative and qualitative data, and although may of his arguments have been hotly debated, they have inspired a great deal of research which has revolutionised care for children in hospital, fostering and day care practice and have highlighted the importance of very early experiences to parents and governments alike. ...read more.

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