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To what extent has research supported Bowlby's claim that a child's attachment to the mother is unique.

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Ami Loveridge September 2003 AS Psychology Developmental Psychology-Attachment To what extent has research supported Bowlby's claim that a child's attachment to the mother is unique. Bowlby said that a child's attachment to the mother is unique, and that a child cannot make the same attachment to someone else. A lot of research has been done to prove this theory for right or wrong over the years and in this essay, I plan to bring the research together to come to a conclusion about a child's attachment to its mother and whether or not it is unique. Bowlby came up with the theory that attachment is innate, that it is natural to the child for survival. He thought that a deprivation or privation of attachment during critical periods produced emotional and social problems later in life. Bowlby came up with the Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis. He decided that separation from the mother, caused bond disruption and if the separation was severe then it caused bond detachment and that once broken, the bond between the mother and the child could never be rebuilt. That the infant cannot even form a similar new attachment with someone else as they have already gone through all the development stages and it would be too late to o back. ...read more.


They did a naturalistic observational study of children aged 1-4 years in residential nurseries. Films of specific length were taken of individual children, focusing on behavioural and emotional reactions due to short-term separation. They found that deprivation caused the short-term effects of protest, despair and detachment. Another team, Cockett and Tripp, did a study on the effects of long-term deprivation. in children from re-ordered families , where parents had divorced and the child now lived away from a parental attachment figure. They found that there were more long-term effects in those children than in children that lived in intact but discordant families. The found long-term effects of deprivation are increased aggression, an increase in clingy behaviour they also found that there is an increased risk of depression as an adult. With the ever-increasing amount of mothers going to work and sending their children to day-care, a longitudinal investigation was taken into the effect of day-care. They found that children who spend long amounts of time in day-care and who start going to day-care at a very young age are more likely to be at risk from attachment problems. ...read more.


* Finally, how could the children remember exactly what happened in their childhood, if the interviews were repeated, then the answers may not be the same. The results could be a lot better, but as always, you have to remember when looking at the results of an investigation that a researchers own bias from experiences and memories will always affect their judgement on the results. Over the years, cross cultural studies have shown that children in other countries, are more likely two have multiple attachments than those in the USA and in Britain. They also showed that countries like Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands have a greater percentage of securely attached children than places like China or West Germany. It is important to remember that a lot of research does not take into account the other factors involved, such as the child's background and home environment. It also tends to overlook the original relationship between the mother and the child Overall, research has supported Bowlby's theory to a certain extent. It does support the statement that the attachment to the mother is unique. Although it also proves that it not the most important, the most important thing for the child is to have multiple attachments. ...read more.

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