Development through the Lifespan
This research will describe John Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment, tracing the development of attachment during the first two years and then highlighting the genetic and environmental influences of attachment.
Ethological theory of attachment is a theory that recognizes the infants emotional tie to the caregivers as an evolved response that promotes survival and is the most widely accepted view. John Bowbly’s believed that the bonding process begins at birth and is well under way by the age of 6 months. Infants typically attach themselves to their primary caregiver. Bowbly describes this in four different phases.
Babies generally are more content with others around and make little distinctions between people in their vicinity. Grasping the finger, smiling, crying and gazing into the adult eyes help bring the baby into close contact with other caregivers. (newborn to 12 weeks)
Attachment-in-making-phase During this phase, the infant is more excited to react to their primary caregiver however they may respond differently to a stranger. The main change during this phase is that they prefer their primary caregiver who is providing their basic needs. (12 weeks-six months)
Clear-cut-attachment phase. At this time, the child continues to explore the world around them. There is a strong bond with the child and the primary care giver. This is also the time they may experience separation anxiety. Strangers produce more anxiety for the infant as well. (Six months-2 years)
Reciprocal Relationship phase. At this time, the toddler is able to know when the primary caregiver is leaving and predicts when they are returning. This can also result in a decline in separation anxiety. (Two years and older)
Environmental verses Genetics
Early in his research, Bowlby proposed that children who grew up in orphanages were unable to love because they had not been able to form a solid attachment to a mother figure early in life (environmental explanation). The environmental explanation has been challenged by studies that have included physiological and genetic measures. Twin studies of attachment are providing