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Psychology AS Attachment lesson 2

Bowlby's theory of attachment

Amanda Lane

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of Psychology AS Attachment lesson 2

Bowlby's theory of attachment
Last lesson we identified that attachment can be explained using LEARNING THEORY - attachment is behaviour that is learnt through classical or operant conditioning.
Which psychological perspective can we attribute to learning theory?
However, Bowlby sees attachment as a need to survive: we are born with pre-programmed behaviours that we have inherited through our ancestors. Similarly adults are programmed to be attached to an infant which increases the survival rate for the infant and allows genes to be passed on.
Which psychological perspective does Bowlby's theory fall under?
Psychological approaches
Psychoanalysis approach - Behaviour that is shaped by unconscious thoughts
Behaviourist approach - The scientific study of observable behaviour
Cognitive approach - The mental processes that people use to acquire, store, retrieve and use knowledge
Biological approach - Looks at behaviour in terms of internal physiological (biological) structures within the body
Evolutionary approach - behaviour is linked to innate survival and reproductive needs.
As well as innate attachment behaviour increasing the likelihood of survival (natural selection), we have also looked at how attachment can be linked to how we perceive relationships in adult life (internal working model or schema).
'Imprinting' (Lorenz) shows how innate evolutionary behaviour become fixated on a subject that is not natural (ie: gosslings on a human). The innate behaviour of the baby geese to follow their mother for safety and survival has been 'imprinted' on the human surrogate.
Bowlby proposed 3 features to his theory of attachment
Programmed behaviour
Critical period of development
Continuity hypothesis
Programmed behaviour
Bowlby suggests that all innate behaviour is linked to natural selection - to increase your chances of survival and reproduction in terms of genetic competition: Survival of the fittest
In order for attachment to be successful, interaction between infant and caregiver needs to take place. These interactions are known as SOCIAL RELEASERS
Social releasers are not just exclusive to babies, children and adults use them to form attachments with people too.
Social releaser
Innate or learned?
Fill in the table with 5 social releasers for each age group
Now think of the caregiver's response to each of the social releasers. Are they innate or learned? What affects a caregivers response to social releasers?
Critical period
Bowlby suggests that if an infant does not form and attachment by the age of 2 1/2 years then it is not possible thereafter. This has been proven with research into privation and deprivation.
Deprivation - The LOSS of emotional care and the breakdown of emotional bonds

Privation - No emotional attachment or care
Continuity hypothesis
Bowlby suggests that the relationship with one special attachment figure (monotropy) provides the basis for emotional relationships in adulthood (schema), and also childhood personality characteristics.
According to Bowlby there are attachment 'types' which relates to the level of attachment an infant receives from a caregiver
Secure attachment
Avoidant (insecure)
sensitive, emotionally responsive and supportive caregiver
Resistant (insecure)
Rejecting caregiver
Inconsistent caregiver
Children have a positive self image
Children see themselves as unacceptable and unworthy
Negative self image and attention seeking
Type of attachment
Caregiver behaviour
Child characteristics
Types of attachment and associated behaviours
What can we infer about different attachment types and the adult relationships these types of children are likely to have?
What does the research tell us?
Evaluation of Bowlby's theory
The Minnesota LONGITUDINAL study
followed a group of children from age 12 months to adolescence. Using trained teachers, observers and counsellors, they rated their attachment type throughout childhood. Those who were rated as SECURELY ATTACHED were said to be more popular amongst peers, had more initiative, were self-confident and had higher self-esteem than those who were classed as AVOIDANT or RESISTANT.
McCarthy (1999)
Discovered that infants that were rated as AVOIDANT INSECURE had relationship problems in adulthood, and those rated as RESISTANT INSECURE were more likely to have friendship problems in adulthood.
Evaluation of the continuity hypothesis....
'True love' exist?

Hazan and Shaver (1987) discovered that people who were securely attached during infancy were more likely to believe in the existence of true love, whereas those who were insecurely attached were more likely to believe that true love did not exist.
This research supports Bowlby's continuity hypothesis and the internal working model!
Critical period research
Rutter et al (1998) conducted a study using abandoned and orphaned children raised in institutional care and then adopted. The research shows that children were able to form attachments after adoption, but the longer they stayed in care, the slower the progress was.
This research contradicts the critical period theory as it highlights that time does impact on attachment, but shows that attachment is still possible after the critical period
This suggests that the critical period is more of a SENSITIVE period
Other evaluative points!
Does not explain why some children can cope with poor attachment
Evolutionary approach is assumptive and is not fact as it is POST HOC - (after the fact)
Generates plenty of research
Positive impact on care of young children
Your task is to experience an attachment with your baby buddy!
What social releasers do you need to 'create' for your buddy?
As your buddy's caregiver, what do you need to do to 'care' for your buddy?
You need to look after your buddy as if it was your own child. Do not break it, leave it somewhere or make omelet with it! It has to remain with you at ALL times!
There will be a 'positive reinforcement' for whoever can successfully care for their buddy in next Monday's lesson
Lesson Objective:
To understand Bowlby's theory of attachment and how it differs from the learning theory in terms of explaining attachment
Case study:
Extreme privation - Genie
Full transcript