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Outline and evaluate the evolutionary theory of attachment.

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AS Psychology Essay The Evolutionary Theory of Attachment The evolutionary theory of attachment as proposed by John Bowlby (1907-1990) suggests that attachment, in terms of adaptation, is essential for survival. In order to progress healthily, children are born with an innate tendency to form attachments. This means that infants are pre-programmed to become attached to their caregiver. Bowlby's evolutionary theory consists of a number of essential factors. The first is monotropy which refers to his suggestion that infants form one social bond with the person who is most sensitive to their social releases (i.e. their caregiver). This bond or attachment is a two-way process which is referred to as reciprocal. Furthermore, Bowlby proposed that infants develop an Internal Working Model which acts as a template for future relationships. ...read more.


They conducted a large-scale observational study and found that after a main attachment was formed, multiple attachments followed. This contradicts Bowlby's suggestion of monotropy as there was more than one attachments formed. The study also has high ecological validity but can also be criticised as being prone to bias as the infants' mothers kept the records. When considering the Internal Working Model proposed by Bowlby, two studies can be used to support this concept. In 1987, Hazan and Shaver found a strong relationship between childhood attachment type and adulthood attachment type. In a more recent study, Black and Schutte (2006) found a similar result, which suggests that the relationship between child and caregiver does form a template for future relationships. ...read more.


Susan Curtiss (1989) carried out research as several methods were undertaken to ensure Genie improved socially and emotionally. However, Genie's language development did not have positive results. Her case suggests that it was the result of not having made an attachment within the critical period that led to problems in her social and emotional development. In conclusion, Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment has many strengths and weaknesses. The learning theory can be used to undermine Bowlby's theory as it suggests that attachments are learned whereas Bowlby suggests that they are innate. Also, his suggestion of an Internal Working Model can simply be due to the explanation that some infants may simply be better than others at forming relationships. Overall, his theory is based on the assumption that attachment exists due to it being adaptive, as it was first proposed by Darwin's theory of evolution. ...read more.

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4 star(s)

This essay is well structured. Some valid points are made - some need developing or explaining further. Think synoptically for deeper thinking.

Marked by teacher Stephanie Porras 30/03/2013

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