Outline and Evaluate Bowlbys Theory of Attachment

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Outline and evaluate Bowlby’s theory of attachment (12 marks) Bowlby was an evolutionary Psychologist who believed that attachment is a part of evolutionary behaviour and focus on an animal’s instinctive and innate capabilities, and the functions of their behaviour. They believe this is useful for learning about human instinctive and biological behaviour. Attachment behaviour keeps a young animal or human safe. It is behaviour seen in all species of animal. Many species of animal form rapid attachments to either mother almost immediately after birth and young babies follow their mothers around as soon as they can physically walk and use their mother as a secure base for exploration.

The critical period hypothesis states that if you fail to attach, or suffer from a disruption bond between 1-3years, then you will suffer from long term irreversible cognitive, social and emotional problems. Evidence to support this includes privation studies such as orphanages. This supports the critical period as the children had no attachment during the critical period and did suffer from long lasting and irreversible consequences. However, some privation studies have shown that even children who suffered privation during the critical period have recovered. This has led some psychologists to recall it the ‘sensitive period’.

Social releasers are instincts that babies are born with to attract parent’s attention. These included crying, sucking, clinging, gripping and imitating. These help in attachment because they release/ trigger the parent’s instinct to respond to the biological needs of a baby. This had been supported by Klaus and Kennel who stated that mothers who had prolonged skin to skin contact with their mothers had a stronger attachment bond. The time had enabled the parents to ‘switch on’ their maternal instincts. However, this has been criticized because maternal instinct can always be there not just when you’ve had a baby so most women’s hormones make them react to...
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