Essay on Attachment Theory and Bowlby

Submitted By Emmalou1981
Words: 1063
Pages: 5

ATTACHMENT – “the formation of strong, reciprocal emotional bond between an infant and a primary caregiver” (VLE). it is accepted by psychologists as being crucial for normal, healthy development.
Our first attachment is the prototype for all the attachments that follow. If initial experiences are negative, it could affect further attachments and relationships. (Bowlby 1953).
Klaus & Kennel stated that “the first bonding must take place within 6-12 hours or a bond might fail to develop” (
Rutter felt that 'bonding may be gradual'. Leaning towards the hypotheses of Freud (1926) and Behaviourists who believe that attachment is a learnt process (nurture). (as psychology, extention/separation)
The first and most intense attachment is normally that between mother and child. Because of this, most research is focused on this particular attachment.
John Bowlby (1953) researched this subject and argued that new-born’s, being helpless at birth, are genetically programmed to behave toward their mother in ways that ensure their survival. His initial hypothesis stated that infants displayed a strong innate tendency to attach to 'mother' but he later changed this to 'primary caregiver' (simply psychology)
According to Maccoby (1980) there are key behaviours that show attachment has taken place. Seeking proximity to primary caregiver, particularly at times of stress. Distress on separation. Pleasure upon being reunited, and a general orientation of behaviour towards its primary caregiver.
The formation of an attachments provide a safe base for an infant during times of stress, but psychologists wanted to determine the different attachments made between an infant and its primary caregiver. Schaffer and Emerson (1998) found that some infants became more strongly attached to their caregiver, and this can be shown by the extent of their distress upon separation from them. (quizlet. attachments)
Ainsworth and Bell (1970) devised an observation set in a laboratory to classify the different kinds of attachment. It was called 'The Strange Situation'. The infants' behaviour was observed during seven, three minute episodes. The differences in behaviour observed from this experiment were seen to represent the different relationships the mother and infant had. Mothers sensitive and responsive to their baby's needs understandably had securely attached infants. Inconsistent mothers had resistant infants, and suffocating, or by contrast, uninterested mothers had infants that displayed anxious avoidant attachment. (quizlet. strange situation)
Bowlby’s Maternal Deprivation hypothesis stated that the attachment between an infant and its mother needs to be continuous; therefore cannot be broken in the early stages of life without permanent harm being done to the infants' emotional, social and intellectual development. (simply psychology)
This is supported by Harlow (1962) on the study on the formation of attachments in Rhesus monkeys. Experiments were undertaken where rhesus monkeys were raised in isolation with two 'surrogate' mothers. When they were later reintroduced to their peers, they were antisocial, aggressive and near impossible to breed. The ones that were successfully artificially inseminated went on to reject their young, confirming the importance of attachment in the early stages of development. ( Bowlby maintained that there is a critical period in which a primary attachment needs to be made (in humans, before the age of 21/2) in order for the formation of normal future attachments and these monkeys had not formed any peer attachment during this period. Rutter argued that there was no critical period. Hodges and Tizards' theory supported Rutter and said that there was a “sensitive” period rather than a “critical” period.
In contrast to Bowlby, Hodges and Tizard (1978) put forward that even in severe cases of deprivation; careful therapy could improve a child's chances of successful future