• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14

It has been established that human social development depends in a fundamental way on the early formation of lasting bonds with other people. The processes involved in the formation of bonds are known as attachment. The word 'attachment' has been applied

Extracts from this document...


WORDCOUNT - 5347 It has been established that human social development depends in a fundamental way on the early formation of lasting bonds with other people. The processes involved in the formation of bonds are known as attachment. The word 'attachment' has been applied to the reciprocal processes between an individual/infant and another specific individual/person, which is the foundation for acceptance of each other. Early relationships are thought crucial to emotional development as a caregiver that is consistently caring gives a child the self-assurance that will carry on in subsequent relationships. Freud and learning theorists once thought that bonding and attachment process between infant and mother was 'cupboard love' due to the mother providing the infant with nourishment. Basic needs of an infant such as nourishment were given priority over emotional needs because little was known of their emotional needs. Studies and research, ( Schaffer and Emerson 1964) show basic needs are inter-related and inter-dependant upon emotional needs for example, an infant that is hungry will not eat if unhappy and may need physical contact as the priority. (See Harlow's studies of primates that prefer comfort to food detailed on page 6) This assignment attempts to critically evaluate some of the many studies of the psychological theory of attachment and their importance or otherwise to child development and whether early experiences such as separation from a significant carer has any detrimental or lasting effect to emotional health and subsequent behaviour. Attachment theories will be analysed to determine what extent the theory influences contemporary social work practice and whether knowledge of the theory benefits a social work practitioner working with children and families. Whilst many studies have explored and explained attachment theory as a lifelong process developing throughout the life cycle, this assignment will focus on attachment patterns from infancy up to young adults. After analysing the theory links will be made to attachment theory in relation to adoption and fostering practice. ...read more.


This led the researchers to believe that warm contact is of critical importance as a need for the monkeys and leads to affectionate responses. Critics of both these studies question the relevance of animal studies to human behaviour. Bowlby's influential theory managed to link together the evolutionary focus of adaptation with the psychodynamic and behavioural importance of social relationships during infancy and childhood. (Hollin 95) A measure of its influence can be gained from the action of the World Health Organisation in 1955 stating that "Permanent damage can be done to the emotional health of babies and children when put into nurseries or sent to child-minders." The WHO report had many consequences and resulted in lots of practices regarding child care and children's needs being changed. Women were encouraged to stay at home and were made to feel guilty and bad mothers if the went out to work. (Which suited the government at the time, as they needed these vacated jobs for men) Family Allowance payments were also introduced as a further inducement to keep women from going out to work Maternity wards encouraged siblings to stay with their mother, whilst children's wards encouraged mothers to stay. A main influence on social work practice was the idea that ' a bad home is better that the best institution' which resulted in less fostering and removal of children from poor if not dangerous situations at home. Bowlby's findings were influential but controversial and became the starting point for further studies. Some studies began to disagree with Bowlby, Fraiberg in 1974 argued that it was possible to strengthen an attachment; Parents of blind children who did not experience eye contact with their infant felt rejected and consequently were unable to develop a strong attachment to their children. When taught to interpret their child's hand movements, it was found the bond could be strengthened. Interaction was thought to be the important element in developing the attachment. ...read more.


Both studies are instances when attachment theory can be used constructively if abuse or neglect is suspected e.g. if the child has to experience a separation then understanding that they may blame themselves (it has happened because I am bad), can be pre-empted with coping strategies already in place to help the child manage their emotions without delay e.g. appropriate counselling. Both studies are also examples of how attachment theory has given an insight into otherwise unexplainable behaviour e.g. that children have and develop defensive mechanisms in order to better manage the psychological stress that occurs when close relationships are unreliable and unpredictable. (Goffman 1969) In conclusion it can be said that attachment theory offers a valuable perspective on the development of feelings and behaviours relating to human needs. It also deals with the impact of separation and loss and explains their significance to emotional development and subsequent well being. It is clear Bowlby's theory had a major impact and has influenced and initiated further research into an otherwise unexplored areas. To pull the theory and practice together, it can be said that attachment theory is useful in four different but complimentary ways. 1. In understanding universal reactions. 2. Understanding individuals different reactions. 3. Understanding the nature and impact of lost relationships. 4. Understanding appropriate coping strategies. As a consequence of this wealth of knowledge attachment theory has allowed optimism to develop towards caring for children as a less distorted and confused picture of child development has emerged. It is now apparent that healthy development can occur in many different family environments. There are many 'right' ways of meeting children's needs. Stressful experiences can be minimised by effective action on the part of the care practitioners involved. Traumatic events do not have to have lasting or damaging consequences if positive action is taken. Children are more resilient and adaptable than was once thought. Productive and meaningful placements can be effected through knowledge of children's needs. Children being 'looked after' need not be disadvantaged if 'quality care' is obtained. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    If a child does not form a significant attachment to a main caregiver within ...

    3 star(s)

    Terms that are linked to this explanation include, "unconditioned stimulus" and "unconditioned response", which refer to things that are not learnt, as against stimuli and responses' that are referred to as "conditional". Operant conditioning focuses on the learning of behavior through reinforcement and deterrence (eg the receiving of presents for

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The Strange situation has been used in many different countries to investigate attachments." Outline ...

    To evaluate, Vaughn et al, (1980) showed that attachment type may change depending on variations in the family's circumstances. Children of single parents living in poverty were studied at 12 and 18 months. Significantly, 38 % were classified differently on the two occasions, reflecting changes in the families' circumstance, particularly changes in accommodation and the mothers' degree of stress.

  1. For this assignment I have decided to look at the disorder known as ADHD ...

    Toddlers have a high activity level; children with ADHD at this stage are incredibly hyperactive. Their lives consist of climbing, destroying or messing up wherever they are. This can effect mealtimes and toileting. Just as the normal hyperactivity of toddlers is magnified in ADHD, normal impulsiveness is also.

  2. Using studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow: Rosenhan (sane in ...

    Then it stopped calling out: and I sat down on top of the crumpled one'. Freud and the father interpreted the dream/fantasy as being a reworking of the morning exchanges in the parental bed. Hans enjoyed getting into his parents bed in a morning but his father often objected (the

  1. Task1 Counselling 1aPhysical signs and symptoms of stress

    Using this method will create a non-threatening context in which Mrs A will feel free to explore and share painful, hostile, defensive, or abnormal feelings without worrying about personal rejection by the therapist. By Dawn Bewick P9 Task 2 Crime Main concepts of the relevant psychological perspectives The Cognitive Perspective

  2. Communication skills in a group interaction.

    The group were working together to produce Thank you cards for their family, and sharing their ideas to help others. I wanted the children to be able to help each other to make the cards and choosing the individual materials, which were needed to make their cards.


    of inquiry; for this delicate l little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail". - Albert Einstein (cited in Rogers, 1983). Introduction. Rachel (a pseudonym in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council; Code of Professional Conduct - Clause 5.1, 2002)

  2. Harry Harlow- The formation of attachment in Rhesus Monkeys

    However, the towel-covered 'mother' did not provide sufficient 'love' to enable healthy development. In later life, the monkeys were either indifferent or abusive to other monkeys and had difficulty with mating and parenting. This shows that contact comfort is preferable to food comfort, but not sufficient for healthy development.

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