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Describe the development of attachment theory and discuss its strengths and limitations.

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Introduction

Describe the development of attachment theory and discuss its strengths and limitations. English psychiatrist John Bowlby is a leading and influential figure within the history of social reform. His work has influenced social work policies and legislation relating to child psychiatry and psychology. Bowlby was trained as a psychoanalyst, and was influenced by Freudians theories, but became influenced again in his attachment theory by the work of ethologists. The ethologists theory concentrates on looking at the role parents play rather than only the child. Bowlby believes that parenting has strong ties with biology and it explains why there are such strong emotions attached. Bowlby's main idea was that of the main caregiver providing a safe and secure base in which the child can return to over again, without coming to any harm. This serves the evolutionary function of such behaviour which then leads to emotionally secure bonds being built. This increases basic survival value in the beginning and then helps to bring about the reproductive success of the species in the end. There have been some studies relating to attachment involving Rhesus monkeys. ...read more.

Middle

Human babies take much longer to become that independent, so although they need to bond with a caregiver human babies do not need to do so quite so quickly. As human babies are very helpless at birth they are genetically programmed to behave towards their mothers in certain ways. Also the mother reciprocates this response to the baby. Bowlby believed that there was a critical period of synchrony which happened between mother and baby which produced the attachment. If there was any delay after just twelve months to two to three years then attachment would fail. Depending on the attachment to its mother this would reveal how far away from the mother the child would move and how much fear if any it would show towards strangers. Bowlby believed that infants have an inborn tendency to attach to just one adult female which is known as monotropy. This study has been argued by Rutter (1979) he believes that bonding doesn't necessarily need to be this quick and that bonding needs to build up over a longer period of time, usually months not hours. ...read more.

Conclusion

An American social developmentist, Ainsworth measured attachment through carefully controlled labatory procedures using the 'Strange situation' study. The procedures revealed individual differences in attachment when observed systematically. There were three identifiable types. Type A anxious/avoidant type B securely attached and type C anxious/ambivalent. These causes in attachment according to Ainsworth rely on quality of the attachment and that insensitive and unresponsive mothering during the first year of life contributes to the negative differences in attachment. Although Ainsworth studies reveal different attachment types her experiments are not conclusive. There could be other underlying factors to take into account. Some children's personality types could render them more sensitive than others to the strange situation; also major changes to the Childs life circumstances can have an affect through no-ones fault. Different cultures have varying attitudes to child rearing the 'strange situation' may not be an appropriate way of comparing attachment patterns in different cultures, as infants from different cultures would experience the procedure differently this would reflect a different upbringing not security to attachment. Principles of developmental psychology. George Butterworth & Margaret Harris. Introduction to Social psychology. 2nd edition. Edited by Hewstone, Stroebe and Stephenson. Psychology. The Science of Mind & Behaviour. 4th edition. Richard Gross. ?? ?? ?? ?? 4 Student number. 0465802/1 ...read more.

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