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How has Bowlby's original formulation of attachment been taken up in subsequent research?

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TMA 03 How has Bowlby's original formulation of attachment been taken up in subsequent research? Word count 1959 The attachment theory was produced by John Bowlby and colleagues in the 1950's. Influenced by the work of Freud and Harlow, amongst others, Bowlby drew on ethological concepts to develop his theory. Early on in an infants life they build a close contact with a significant object. From these early relationships with their attachment objects infants create what Bowlby called internal working models (IWM) (Oates et al. 2005). The Robertsons (1989) brought to light the distress infants experience when they are separated from their attachment figure, this lead Bowlby's instigation to incorporate separation anxiety into his theory. Mary Ainsworth's (1954, 1978) work on maternal deprivation enabled Bowlby's ideas to be empirically tested through designing the Strange Situation and attachment classification (Oates et al. 2005). Bowlby's theory envisaged attachment classifications to continue through generations (Oates et al. 2005). Main et al. (1994) devised an equivalent classification for adults that were assessed through the Adult Attachment Interview, (AAI). Having a stable and long term relationship with carers was a feature that Bowlby thought was important in order to develop good IWM; Hamilton (1994) subsequent research explores this idea. Bowlby integrated the work of Winnicott on "good enough mothering" that was later explored by researchers such as Vondra et al. (1995). The predictive value of the Strange Situation on later attachments was challenged by Lamb et al. (1985). Baumrind's model of parenting style extended Bowlby's work on IWM and the cultural context in which the theory was originally formulated looked into. ...read more.


Subsequent research has investigated the influences on attachment. Vondra et al. carried out a study in 1995 that showed consistent parental behaviours could be used as a reasonable predictor of their children classification type. Caregivers that were sensitive tended to have securely attached infants (Type B), infants classified as avoidant (Type A) were probable to have controlling mothers and ambivalent infants (Type C) were likely to have unresponsive mothers (Oates et al. 2005). Mia Lherpiniere X7374356 TMA 03 Mein et al 2001 deduced from their research a contributing factor to secure attachment. Mothers who treated their infants as "persons" as appose to "a creature with needs that must be satisfied" (Mein et al., 2001 p.638. cited) resulted in the infants being securely attached and able to perform well in theory of mind tasks at the age of 4 (Oates et al. 2005). The theory of internal working model has been developed by investigating ways in which how infants develop their IWM on relationships. Goldberg et al. carried out some research in 1994 to investigate the effects of emotional communication on attachment (Oates et al. 2005). Secure infants displayed a full range of emotions to which their mother responded to, mothers were unresponsive to the few emotions displayed by the avoidant infants especially the negative displays and ambivalent infants tended to learn that negative emotion was a valid way of getting response from the mother as they adhered to it (Oates et al. 2005) John Bowlby emphasised that attachments do not have to be to a single figure. ...read more.


A fundamental concept in the theory is that the internal working models that can be plural and change through out life. Forms of attachment, developed by Ainsworth, can be classified into two main types; secure and insecure. Classification types vary by the contrasting styles of parenting that caregivers use (Baumrind, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1991; Baumrind and Black, 1967). This in turn can affect the child's future relationships. Baumrind has suggested that authoritative parenting can produce more optimistic child outcomes (Oates et al. 2005). Parenting and child development are strongly bound with a complex cause and effect relationship between the two. Transactional models are needed to encapsulate this complexity (Oates et al. 2005). Main (1994) made the association of infant classification types through into adulthood showing that with long term stability from carers the classification types translate into adulthood. Life events have been held accountable for the change in classification types (Zimmerman, 2000). Bowlby's original formulation was created at a time where there was a political push for woman to return to being housewives after the war. The social and cultural context of research must be taken into account when being studied. Future research would benefit in studying attachment cross culturally. As a result of Bowlby's work there have been major changes in the way children are looked after, primarily by taking into consideration children's emotion. His outlined theory of having a "deep attachment for a person (or a place or a thing) is to have taken them as Mia Lherpiniere X7374356 TMA 03 a terminating object of our instinctual responses" was viewed by some psychoanalytic colleagues as a behaviourist approach. (Oates et al. 2005). . ...read more.

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