Psychology: Attachment Theory Essay

AS Psychology – Attachment Revision What is Attachment? :- “Attachment is the close bond between two people which endures over time and leads to certain behaviors such as proximity seeking, clinging and distress on separation, These behaviors serve the function of protecting an infant” Exam Question 1: ‘Explain Bowlby’s theory of attachment? (For top marks, mention: Social releasers, Sensitive Period, Montropy, internal model and the continuity hypothesis): * “Bowlby’s theory of attachment is an evolutionary theory that suggests the behaviours demonstrated by caregivers and babies are an innate and indistinctive drive to form attachment and have evolved through natural selection. According to Bowlby, forming an attachment enables an infant to explore the world whilst having a secure base for protection; when babies tend to form an attachment with a special importance, it is known as, “primary attachment” which is also called montropy which is based upon the person who responds most sensitively to the infant’s social releasers. However, infants are also able to make more than one attachment which still plays a key in their social and emotional development. * Attachment also enables infants to develop expectations about emotional relationships.

This is known as the internal working model. This suggests that there is a link between early relationships and late relationships. In turn, this leads to the continuity hypothesis which indicates there is a link between individuals’ attachment types in childhood and later emotional behaviour. * Finally, Bowlby proposed that there is a sensitive period which if formation of attachment does not place between a caregiver and a baby; it may difficult to form an attachment in the future. ”

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Strength of Bowlby’s theory: (( (Bowlby’s theory of attachment has been particularly influential and generated much further research) Strength: Sroufe Et al’s (2005) – Study following of participants from infancy to adulthood. Findings: – Early attachment types: Predict behaviour. – Supports: Bowlby’s theory of continuity hypothesis. Weakness of Bowlby’s theory: Weakness: Temperament hypothesis, (Kagan, 1984), as it takes into consideration individual differences were the Evolutionary theory does not. Findings: We have inborn temperamental differences: such as ‘easy’, ‘slow to warm up’ and ‘difficult’ – Psychologists who support hypothesis believe: such temper ants can affect adult and infant relationships and how we form attachment. Exam Question 1: ‘Explain Bowlby’s theory of attachment? ’ (For top marks, mention: Social releasers, Sensitive Period, Montropy, internal model and the continuity hypothesis): * “Bowlby’s theory of attachment is an evolutionary theory that suggests the behaviours demonstrated by caregivers and babies are an innate and indistinctive drive to form attachment and have evolved through natural selection. According to Bowlby, forming an attachment enables an infant to explore the world whilst having a secure base for protection; when babies tend to form an attachment with a special importance, it is known as, “primary attachment” which is also called montropy which is based upon the person who responds most sensitively to the infant’s social releasers. However, infants are also able to make more than one attachment which still plays a key in their social and emotional development. Attachment also enables infants to develop expectations about emotional relationships. This is known as the internal working model. This suggests that there is a link between early relationships and late relationships. In turn, this leads to the continuity hypothesis which indicates there is a link between individuals’ attachment types in childhood and later emotional behaviour. Finally, Bowlby proposed that there is a sensitive period which if formation of attachment does not place between a caregiver and a baby; it may difficult to form an attachment in the future. ” Strength of Bowlby’s theory: (( (Bowlby’s theory of attachment has been particularly influential and generated much further research) Strength: Sroufe Et al’s (2005) – Study following of participants from infancy to adulthood. Findings: – Early attachment types: Predict behaviour. Supports: Bowlby’s theory of continuity hypothesis. Weakness of Bowlby’s theory: Weakness: Temperament hypothesis, (Kagan, 1984), as it takes into consideration individual differences were the Evolutionary theory does not. Findings: – We have inborn temperamental differences: such as ‘easy’, ‘slow to warm up’ and ‘difficult’ – Psychologists who support hypothesis believe: such temper ants can affect adult and infant relationships and how we form attachment. Exam Question 2: ‘Explain the Learning Theory? (For top marks, mention:) Q – How does the Learning theory differ from the Evolutionary explanations of attachment? “The learning theory which suggests we form attachment by learning a set of learnt behaviours differs from Bowlby’s evolutionary theory of attachment, which suggests that attachment occurs because is it innate drive that promotes survival, because unlike Bowlby’s theory, it suggests we learn by association and reinforcement and not through adaptive behaviours.

Another difference between the two theories is that in the learning theory, attachment is said to be solely learnt through teaching by caregivers, whereas Bowlby’s evolutionary theory suggests that there is an indistinctive drive to form attachment which has evolved through natural selection. ” Q – How does the Learning theory differ from the Evolutionary explanations of attachment? The learning theory which suggests we form attachment by learning a set of learnt behaviours differs from Bowlby’s evolutionary theory of attachment, which suggests that attachment occurs because is it innate drive that promotes survival, because unlike Bowlby’s theory, it suggests we learn by association and reinforcement and not through adaptive behaviours.

Another difference between the two theories is that in the learning theory, attachment is said to be solely learnt through teaching by caregivers, whereas Bowlby’s evolutionary theory suggests that there is an indistinctive drive to form attachment which has evolved through natural selection. ” Exam Question 2: ‘What is the Learning Theory? ’ (For top marks, mention:): The learning theory suggests that we form attachments by learning a set of learnt behaviours.

The theory also suggests that attachment formation is based upon two set principles, classical conditioning, which is learning through association and operant conditioning, which is learning through reinforcement. Classical Conditioning: Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov first described this type of learning through conducting research on the salvation reflexes in dogs recording how much they salivated each time they were fed. The physiologist found that dogs started salivating before they were fed and as soon as they heard the door open which meant they had come to associate the door opening with the arrival of food.

Operant Conditioning, Dollard & Millar (1950): Suggests behaviour is formed through reward, for example receiving a pleasant consequence for an action makes it more likely for you to repeat that behaviour. Strength: A piece of psychological research which supports the learning theory is Weakness: There are pieces of research which do not support the learning theory such as Harlow’s Monkey’s (1959) and Fox (1997). 3) Ainsworth 4) Cross-cultural similarities and cross-cultural differences in attachment? 5) Difference between individualistic & collectivist cultures?

Key terms: 1) Bowlby’s theory: A theory that suggests the attachment behaviours demonstrated by caregivers and babies is an innate and indistinctive drive to form attachment and has evolved through natural selection. Innate: Characteristics that are inborn and product of genetic factors. Continuity hypothesis: The idea that emotionally secure attachments go onto be emotionally secure adults. Internal Working Model: Mental model of the world that enables individuals to predict and control their environment. The IWM based on attachment has several consequences such as.. ) In short term: Gives child insight into caregiver’s behaviour and enables child to influence caregiver’s behaviour, so true partnership can be formed. 2) In long term: Acts as template for ALL future relationships as it generates expectations about how people SHOULD behave. Monotropy: The idea that one relationship that the infant has with his/her primary attachment figure is of special significance in emotional development. Sensitive Period: A biologically determined period of time during which the child is particularly sensitive to a specific form of stimulation, resulting in the development of specific response or characteristic.

Social Releasers: A social behaviour or characteristic that elicits a caregiving reaction which Bowlby suggested were innate, adaptive, and critical in the attachment forming process. Examples: (Smiling, crying, making cooing noises and the ‘baby face’) 2) Learning theory: Name given to a group of explanations (classical and operant conditioning) which explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than any inborn tendencies or higher order thinking. Key terms: ) Bowlby’s theory: A theory that suggests the attachment behaviours demonstrated by caregivers and babies is an innate and indistinctive drive to form attachment and has evolved through natural selection. Innate: Characteristics that are inborn and product of genetic factors. Continuity hypothesis: The idea that emotionally secure attachments go onto be emotionally secure adults. Internal Working Model: Mental model of the world that enables individuals to predict and control their environment. The IWM based on attachment has several consequences such as.. ) In short term: Gives child insight into caregiver’s behaviour and enables child to influence caregiver’s behaviour, so true partnership can be formed. 2) In long term: Acts as template for ALL future relationships as it generates expectations about how people SHOULD behave. Monotropy: The idea that one relationship that the infant has with his/her primary attachment figure is of special significance in emotional development. Sensitive Period: A biologically determined period of time during which the child is particularly sensitive to a specific form of stimulation, resulting in the development of specific response or characteristic.

Social Releasers: A social behaviour or characteristic that elicits a caregiving reaction which Bowlby suggested were innate, adaptive, and critical in the attachment forming process. Examples: (Smiling, crying, making cooing noises and the ‘baby face’) 4) Learning theory: Name given to a group of explanations (classical and operant conditioning) which explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than any inborn tendencies or higher order thinking. Development and Variety of Attachments Development of attachments Infants have an innate ability to seek interactions with other individuals.

This is known as sociability and is integral to the phases in the development of attachment (Schaffer, 1996). The table below summarizes the four stages of this process: Phase of attachment:| Age range:| Characteristics of phase:| Pre-attachment phase| 0-3 months| At about 6 weeks, infants begin to treat other humans differently from objects by smiling and gurgle at them. | Indiscriminate attachment phase| 3-7 months| Infant can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people but is quite happy to be comforted by anyone. Discriminate attachment phase| 7-9 months| Infant distinguishes between carers and strangers and exhibits distress or separation anxiety when left alone (they have developed object permanence) and may be fearful of the strangers. | Multiple attachment phase| 9+ months| Attachments develop with other people (for example, grandparents or brothers and sisters), although the original attachment remains the strongest. | This ‘stage’ approach is all-well-and-good but it largely ignores individual differences: Infants develop different types of attachments at different rates.

It is also specific to Western society, as other cultures were not studied. Types of attachment The different types of attachment were investigated by placing 12-18 month-old infants in an increasingly stressful environment or ‘Strange Situation’ (Ainsworth et al. , 1978). This table shows the stressors placed on the infant and the observations made of his or her behaviour: Stressors:| Observations:| Unfamiliar room| Reaction to caregiver leaving| Caregiver leaves the room| Reaction to caregiver returning| Stranger in the room| Reaction to the stranger|

The ‘Strange Situation’ goes like this… PRINT SCREEN Ainsworth identified three types of attachment in American infants: Type of attachment:| Name of attachment:| % Of infants:| Characteristics of attachment:| Type A| Insecure-avoidant| 20%| Indifferent to caregiver – unconcerned if present or absent. Signs of distress when left alone but could be comforted by caregiver or stranger. | Type B| Securely attached| 70%| Stay close to caregiver and are distressed by their departure but easily comforted on return. Stranger could give limited comfort. Type C| Insecure-resistant| 10%| Ambivalent to caregiver – both close and resistant at times. Anxious of environment and resistant to stranger. | A fourth type of attachment (insecure-disorganised or Type D) was identified by Main (1991), in which the infant is fearful of the attachment figure. This infant is in conflict as to whether he or she should seek or resist closeness. Securely attached infants are thought to have a healthy emotional and social development. This is supported by evidence that they tend to become popular and confident social leaders (Stroufe, 1983).

The above research shows that the attachment types identified by the ‘Strange Situation’ have validity. Repetition of the procedure later in life produces the same results in infants, so the method also has reliability. The ‘Strange Situation’ has been criticized for a number of reasons: * Relationships rather than attachments may be under investigation. * The scenario is unrealistic and may lack ecological validity. * The ethics of inducing anxiety in the caregivers and infants may be questioned. * The results cannot be generalized to cultures other than that of USA. Cross-cultural variations in attachment

Different cultures have different social norms and accepted ways of doing things. Cross-culturing variations occur in many aspects of behaviour including child rearing. This difference may result in differences in attachments. One study surveyed the results of the ‘Strange Situation’ in many countries. Whilst all countries had secure attachments coming out top, there were marked differences between the countries (Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg, 1988). This graph illustrates these differences: PRINT SCREEN Infants raised in Japanese homes and in Israeli kibbutzim show high levels of insecure-resistant attachment.

These being close environments with the primary caregiver always present and few strangers around could explain this. German infants appear to be particularly insecure-avoidant in their attachments, although their parents were attentive to their children and sensitive to their needs. However, the parents considered some of the ‘secure’ behaviour to be too ‘clingy’ and discouraged it. These findings suggest that the American criteria used in the ‘Strange Situation’ are not appropriate for other cultures: It would be wrong to suggest that the cultures with high levels of insecure attachments were raising children wrongly.

Explanations of attachment The table below summarises these explanations: Theory:| Description:| Evaluation:| Learning theory| Conditioning and social learning theory explain attachment by infants learning to associate food with the person feeding them. | Evidence suggests that interaction is more important than food in the formation of attachments (Harlow, 1959). | Psychodynamic theory| Food provides the infant with the pleasure it seeks at the oral stage of its development leading to emotional attachment to the mother. This explanation has the same limitations as learning theory because it assumes food is most important in attachments. | Ethological theory| Attachment is an adaptive behaviour, which forms during a sensitive period in development as a result of interactions between infant and caregiver (Bowlby, 1958). | Support comes from non-human animal studies on imprinting (Lorenz, 1937) but it may not be possible to generalise these principles to humans. | Bowlby’s theory of attachment has been particularly influential and generated much further research.

He was influenced by the psychodynamic approach and findings from non-human animal studies. He suggested that there was a critical period for the formation of attachments between infants and caregivers. Bowlby’s notion of monotropy suggests that infants have an innate tendency to become attached to one individual. According to Bowlby, the infant may make a number of attachments but this single attachment has qualitative differences from any others. Bowlby also thought that these attachments form a template for the development of future relationships. However, the research evidence to support this is rather weak.