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

Outline and evaluate Bowlby's theory of attachment

Extracts from this document...


Scarlett Hayes, 12R1 Outline and evaluate Bowlby's theory of attachment Attachment is a strong, reciprocal, emotional bond between an infant and his or her caregiver that is characterised by the desire to maintain proximity. Attachments take different forms such as insecure and secure. Infants display attachment through the degree of separation anxiety shown when separated from the caregiver, pleasure at reunion and stranger anxiety. John Bowlby was working to find out what caused attachment from the 1940's onwards. His original theory proposed that a child must form an attachment with their primary caregiver within a very limited time or the consequence would be quite severe. His 1946 study aimed to establish the cause and effect relationship between maternal deprivation and emotional maladjustment based on his observations at his child guidance clinic. He had observed that children showing poor emotional development had often experienced separation/ deprivation and suggested that this can result in psychological and behavioural problems in later life. ...read more.


This could undermine the validity of his research. Bowlby saw attachment as a process that the mother and child engaged in, in order to prolong survival, in a very Darwinian way. The baby needs warmth, protection and food from the mother and in responding the mother ensures the continuation of her genetic material. Once the bond is established this provides the child with a 'secure base' from which to explore, thus enabling the child to mature and eventually establish independence. The process is aided by 'social releasers'. These are behaviours which help the attachment bond to form and be maintained as they are continual. Social releasers include crying and gurgling. Once established, these behaviours tend to cause the carer to act in a particular way i.e. getting the child food, etc. Bowlby insists on a 'critical period' of about 2.5 years from the age of 6months. Attachment must have occurred during this time and if not the child will suffer the consequences later in life. ...read more.


Howes et al, 1994 found that different relationships are formed with a variety of people and if an internal working model was formed as a template for all relationships then all relationships would be the same. As the relationship with the mother is stronger and more intense than those they share with others, this shows that an internal working model may not be the template for all future relationships. Also, it was found that parent-child relationships may not be positively correlated with child-peer relationships. The explanation could be as simple as some children might just be better at forming relationships than others, meaning it is individual differences in infants that account for attachments. Children who are appealing to their parents are likely to be appealing to other people. Therefore it could be said that a child who does well in one relationship is more likely to do well in others. Bowlby puts forward interesting ideas and his research led to many changes in childcare and led to further research into attachments, for which it cannot be criticised. ...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. Critically discuss the implications of attachment theory for different forms of childcare

    Goldfarb (1940) studied the effects that institutionalised child-care has on later development. He compared children who had been cared for in an institution until the age of three and a half before been fostered to children who had been fostered earlier in life and found that those who had lived

  2. Investigate the stages that infants go through when developing attachments.

    Rutter said that some of Bowlby's participants had been separated from their mothers for a short time, and others for a long time, and others had never known their mothers. Rutter felt privation had much more severe long-term effects than deprivation did, and the longer the deprivation the more severe the effects.

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

    These differences can always negate any study; Bowlby included. Field (1996) noted this flaw: "...a problem with the model is that, as in a circular process, attachment has been defined on the basis of those behaviours directed to the person referred to as the attachment figure during an impending separation (such behaviours as crying and clinging)

  2. Attachment and Separation.

    Separation also temporarily frees parents from the burden of child-rearing, allowing them to focus on making the changes necessary for the child to return home. Separating a parent and child can also have profoundly negative effects. Even when it is necessary, research indicates that removing children from their homes interferes with their development.

  1. Infant's Attachments

    In high-risk samples, anxious attachments are more common especially in the anxious/disorganized category" (Colin) Hostile behavior is yet another consequence of a disorganized attachment. "One well-executed study found that infants with anxious/disorganized attachments were at risk for showing hostile/aggressive behavior problems at age five" (Colin).

  2. Describe and Evaluate Bowlby's and Ainsworth's ideas about parent-child relationships.

    Bearing these attachment behaviours in mind, Ainsworth et al (1971) devised the 'strange situation' as a means of studying attachments methodically and objectively. The strange situation allows for the collection of multiple measures in the course of a standardised sequence of events.

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