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Describe and evaluate two explanations of attachment

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´╗┐Task: Describe and evaluate two explanations of attachment Attachment is a reciprocal bond that ties two people together and can be seen trhough behaviour- it is reciprocal because each partner is attached to the other. Attachments are mainly present between infant and caregiver, and for most it is a vital aspect of their lives, and to an extent, what helps them survive (infants particularly). Attachment is characterized by specidfic behaviour in children: Maccoby (1980) identified four of these different types of behaviour that show characteristics of attachment. These include; seeking proximity, distressed on seperation, pleasure when reunited (such as hugging, which suggests a strong emotional tie), and general orientation towards caregiver. In attachment, there are two main explanations, namely; the learning theory, and Bowlby's revolutionary theroy, which are two examples of the nature-nurture debate. The Behavioural theory of attachment, is a behaviourist explanation that is centralised around nurture, and one which takes the view that attachment is a learned process (explaining how all behaviour is acquired through conditioning principles). This involves classical and operant conditioning- Classical conditioning states that we learn through association. For example, food (UCS) ...read more.


In the study, we see the infant monkey cling onto the cylinder covered with a towel, rather than the cylinder providing milk. If food was the cause of the attachment, we would expect the monkey to cling onto the lactating cylinder. Also, the majority's of the monkey's time was spent on the towel covered cylinder, providing contact comfort. They would also jump to this cylinder when frightened which is a characteristic of attachment (seeking proximity for security). This experiment provides evidence for the fact that the formation of an attachment is not simply based on the supply of food, and therefore disapproves with the learning theory. Similarly, Shaffer and Emerson(1964), demonstated that the child's attachment is not always to the person who feed s it. This study involved 60 babies, who were observed over a period of time. The study showed that by 18 months, infants had five or more attachments, such as with siblings, and therefore goes against the learning theory, as it suggests that not all infatns attach to the person who provided them with food first, but rather to the person who contributed to their satisfaction, as a result of contact comfort and security (interaction). ...read more.


As a result, these types of children tend to exaggerate their emotional responses as a way of obtaining the attention they desire. Bowlby's theory has been further studied with the work of Hazan and Shaver, Scroufe et al, and many others to determine whether this theory could be applied in reality. The study by Mccarthy (1999) involved women who were previously identified as ''avoidant-insecure'' as infants. The study discovered that being insecurely attached led to difficulty in forming relationships, which therefore supports Bowlby's theory of continuity hypothesis. Similarly Hazen and Shaver (87) found that secure attachment increased the chances of the ability to form good relationships, whereas insecure decreased it. Rutter et al's study on the other hand, showed that the adoptees were perfectly able to form relationships after the first year of life, and made developmental progress following adoption. However, there was a strong correlation in that the later the adoption, the slower the progress was. Nevertheless, these children were still able to form an attachment out of the so-called 'critical period'. It is worth considering that although several negative criticisms have been made on Bowlby's evolutionery theory, Bowlby's theory is still accepted as the dominant explanation of attachment. The learning theory is also accepted, however, it has been highly criticised on the grounds that it is quite reductionist. ...read more.

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