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Outline and evaluate Explanations of Attachment.

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Introduction

Q. Outline and evaluate Explanations of Attachment. (18 marks) Attachment is a strong, reciprocal, emotional bond between an infant and their caregiver that is characterised by the desire to maintain proximity. Attachments take different forms, such as secure or insecure. Infants display attachment through the degree of separation distress shown when separated from the caregiver, pleasure at reunion and stranger anxiety. Freud proposed and explanation of attachment known as the psychodynamic theory. He suggests the first major stage of psychosexual development is the oral stage, where the mother is the primary love object because she feeds the child. Freud saw this first relationship as a foundation for all future relationships. If it was loving and caring then the chid developed the ability to give and receive love; if not then adult relationships would be unsatisfactory. Harlow (1959) demonstrates 'cupboard love' isn't a valid explanation for infant attachment behaviour, as babies don't always attach to the person who feeds them. ...read more.

Middle

However it fails to recognise natures influence on attachment as supported by Harlow. A third explanation of attachment is Bowlby's evolutionary theory, which is based around the evolutionary perspective that attachment serves to promote survival. Bowlby suggested that babies are born with social releasers e.g. crying and smiling which release a social response in adults. Attachment behaviour is therefore reciprocal as the carers are programmed to respond to the infants needs. Bowlby also said that attachment occurs at around 7 months because it is synchronised with crawling, as before that the infant is unable to move away from their carer. The bond with the main carer was also proposed to be special and different from all other attachments - the concept of monotropy. The first attachment serving as an internal working model for all future relationships and the attachment figure acting as a secure base from which the infant can explore. Bowlby's theory implies that poor attachment results in reduced exploration and poor development and also that the consequences of poor attachment are dire and possibly irreversible. ...read more.

Conclusion

'The Shady Deal' research was based on the concept of imprinting which on a positive note suggests that infants form a picture of their parents at birth helping them to stick to their parents for food and protection which is supported by Harlow as it considers the effect of responsiveness on attachment. However there is the contrasting view that it is based on the behaviour of animals which isn't representative of human behaviour so consequently cannot be accurately generalised across species. The temperament hypothesis also proposes that infants are born trusting and friendly which explains why they become securely attached. In conclusion, both the psychodynamic and learning theory are 'cupboard love' theories which when compared with Harlow's study suggests they aren't likely to be effective explanations of attachment, they also have a wide range of criticisms. On the other hand however, Bowlby's theory although it too has a number of criticisms has a greater range of supporting research therefore appears to be the most accurate of the explanations. ...read more.

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