Describe and evaluate two theories of attachment.

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Describe and evaluate two theories of attachment. (12 marks)

One key theory of attachment is the evolutionary theory, as proposed by John Bowlby. He argued that infants have a biological need for attachment with their care giver, whom often, is the mother. This closeness is vital for survival, and the relationship is needed in order to help the child develop and reach maturity. The initial three years, known as the critical period is fundamental in order for the child to grow up and sustain mature relationships in later life. He also worked on the idea of monotropy, the main attachment to one specific person, the mother, Bowlby maintained. The child possesses social releasers, such as smiling and crying, which act as signals to encourage the primary care giver to look after them. In return, the mother has maternal instincts, which cause her to strive to care for and protect the baby. The concept of an internal working model is also an important one to the child’s development and future as these initial attachments that the baby forms in the critical period form the basis for relationships when the child grows older. This is known as the continuity hypothesis. It will guide the individual’s feelings, thoughts and expectations. Bowlby argues that without stable, secure attachments in infanthood, they will be unable to socially and emotionally develop normally. Bowlby focuses on the idea of attachment being based on nature, as opposed to nurture – an important argument in psychology.

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The other theory of attachment, which focuses on nurture, was put forward by Dollard and Miller (1949), who believe that attachment is something which you learn. It is a result of experience of the environment you live in, and the world around you, not processes you are born with. This theory involves two key areas, classical conditioning and operant conditioning. The first of which, classical conditioning, is based on association. For example, if it is the mother who feeds the child, after time, the baby will begin to associate the mother with being fed, and soon just seeing the ...

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Summary The writer starts off really well with some excellent descriptions of both Bowlby's attachment theory and then Dollard and Miller's social learning theory. This shows that the writer has understood clearly the main points of each theory. Unfortunately the writing on the positive and negatives of both theories is rather thin on the ground. It would be better to spend one paragraph on the positives and negatives of each theory. Then the writer needs to draw some conclusions at the end. This has the potential to be a very good essay if the writer could just improve the last few paragraphs. The writer may need to read a little more about the criticisms of both theories. 3 stars