Explanations of attachment: Bowlby's theory

  • AO1:
  • Bowlby's monotropic theory of attachment:
  • Bowlby gave n evolutionary explanation: that attachment is an innate system that gives a survival advantage. Imprinting and attachment evolved because they ensure young animals stay close to their caregivers and this protects them from hazards. 
  • Monotropy:
  • Monotropic - a primary attachment figure. Bowlby;s theory is described as monotropic because of the emphasis on the child's attachment to one caregiver (mono = one and tropic = learning towards)/ This attachment is different from others and more important. 
  • Bowlby believed that the more time a baby spent with this primary attachment figure (not necessarily the mother) the better. There are 2 main reasons: 1) law of continuity - the more constant a child's care, the better the quality of attachment. 2) law of accumulated separation - the effects of every separation add up. So, 'the safest dose is therefore a zero dose'.
  • Social releasers and the critical period:
  • Bowlby suggested that babies are born with a set of innate 'cute' behaviours (e.g. smiling, cooing, gripping) that encourage attention from adults. The purpose of these social releasers is to activate the adult attachment system (i.e. make an adult feel love towards the baby); Bowlby recognisedd that attachment is a reciprocal system.
  • Bowlby also propsed that there is a critical period of about 2 years when the infant attachment system is active. In fact, he viewed this as more of a sensitive period. A child is maximally sensitive up until the age of 2. If an attachment isn't formed in this time, they will find it much harder to form one later. 
  • Internal working model:


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