• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the contributions of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth to our understanding of the early parent-child relationship.

Extracts from this document...


Alison Portlock 20045505 Psy1003 It has been said of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth that they "revolutionized the way in which we think and observe young children and their parents" (Goldberg, 2000) Discuss the contributions of these two individuals to our understanding of the early parent-child relationship. Attachment describes "an infants tendency to seek closeness to particular people and to feel more secure in their presence"(Atkinson et al, 2000). There are two major perspectives that deal with parental/child attachment theory. The behaviorist view is that infants become attached to their mother because she is a source of food and she removes the tension of hunger. The Psychoanalytical view is that infants are driven by sexual drives and the mother provides gratification to the child. Several pieces of evidence showing that both of these theories are not entirely correct have been found. Take ducklings for instance. They feed them selves from birth yet they still follow their mother around and always like to be in their presence. Therefore, the comfort they get from their mother cannot be based upon feeding. Harlow & Harlow (1962) researched attachment amongst Rhesus monkeys. ...read more.


Mitzukami et al (1990), however, used telethermography to show that infants show evidence of attachment in infants as young as four months old. He found that skin temperature lowers slightly as the infant's caregiver leaves and a stranger appears. This shows that attachment develops earlier than Bowlby suggests. In order to recognize whether or not an infant has a "secure" relationship with their caregiver, Bowlby introduced the "Internal Working Model". This consists of two sub models, the "self" and "other". It suggests that when a child has a "secure" attachment with their caregiver, it sees itself as worthy of attention and love. The infant also sees the caregiver as someone who meets his or her needs. Whereas, If an infant has an "insecure" attachment, it would see themselves as not worthy of attention, and the caregiver as unreliable in meeting their needs. Ainsworth et al (1978), a student of Bowlby's, carried out a study to discover how the above models can be detected in infants. The study is known as the "strange situation" where a child is observed through a series of episodes. A child and mother enter a room full of toys, after a while, a stranger joins them. ...read more.


Ainsworth pursued her theory to discover why attachments differ. She suggests that the quality of the attachment determine the differences. She discovered that if caregivers were secure in their responses to the child then they would develop a secure attachment. The avoidant attachment occurs when the mother rejects the infant. If the caregiver is inconsistent with responses to the child, they will have a resistant attachment and the disorganized attachment is a result of parental depression or abuse to the child. Belsky (1999) puts forward the idea that the attachment the caregiver had with their caregiver often reflects the attachment they hold with their child. Therefore, the theory of attachment has developed immensely through the work of Bowlby and Ainsworth. They have helped us to understand how parent/child attachments develop and they provide us with a reason why children may develop in different ways. Although there are some criticisms of their theories, they give us a solid base as to why attachment is important in the development of infants. So, the idea that Bowlby and Ainsworth have "revolutionized the way in which we think and observe young children and their parents" is supported by their theories. They give us a structure to advance on and maybe produce a clearer, more accurate way of researching attachment in infancy. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Evaluate the contribution of John Bowlby to the development of the theory of attachment.

    Bowlby assumes that the primary attachment relationship will be the prototype for all future relationships; does his theories allow for this assumption?

  2. What causes crime?

    Finally, Blackburn (1993) notes that it is unknown how moral reasoning interacts with: actual behaviour, personality and situational factors. Kohlberg's theory is not a theory of crime and can only be considered as complementary to any other theories. Cornish and Clark's Theory In 1987 Cornish and Clark developed the rational choice theory of crime.

  1. It has been established that human social development depends in a fundamental way on ...

    The orphans of group A had been fostered before nine months old. The orphans in group B had spent at least their first three years in an orphanage before they were fostered. Goldfarb visited each child at ages three, six, eight and twelve years and measured their development with regard

  2. Dr Thomas John Barnardo

    This disturbed Barnardo started to question all the things he had read, he no longer made fun of the religious beliefs of his brothers or friends, instead he could be found regularly attending the meetings not many weeks later one message really got to him he now knew for certain

  1. According to Ainsworth how does attachment develop?

    Another view believed by psychoanalytic psychologists states that an infant becomes attached due the person their being attached to being the source of food, comfort, warmth and a general source of satisfying needs. This view also states that unhealthy attachments can develop when the child is deprived or gains too much of this attention such as food or oral pleasure.

  2. Developmental Psychology - Attachments. Ainsworth and Bell demonstrated that children show two main characteristics ...

    Japan places an emphasis on interdependency and closeness, which as stated before are undesirable characteristics in the west. Kessen (1975) studied the Chinese culture and saw that children are socialised according to society?s values ? that of co-operation and support of independency and individualism, and that one should not wish

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work