Attachment Theory

Topics: Attachment theory, John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth Pages: 8 (2689 words) Published: January 8, 2011
Attachment Theory|
7th June 2010|
By Sandra Thomas |


Q1. Explain the development of attachment in infants. [Criteria 1.1 & 1.2)(500 words) (You are expected to consider the original explanation given by Bowlby and the alternative explanation by Schaffer and Emerson. I.e. Monotrophy vs. Multiple attachment and the stages as described by Bowlby) 529 words

John Bowlby believed that in the early stages of child development the maternal relationship was the basis of the child becoming an emotionally balanced adult. He believed that the relationship should stem from a monotrophy maternal figure or substitutes loving, caring and consistent relations with the child. Bowlby believed that if a relationship was not formed then the child would be less able to form social relationships in adulthood, and would develop behavioural disorders. * Preattachment phase- birth – 6wks, baby’s innate signal attract caregiver, caregivers remain close by when the baby responds positively * Attachment in the Making – 6wks to 6-8mths, Child develops a trust in the caregiver and responds quickly to signals from the main caregiver. The baby is social with others without showing distress * Clear cut Attachment – 6-8mth – 18-24 mths – Babies protest at caregiver leaving and show separation anxiety * Formation of Reciprocal Relationship- 18mth – 2yrs, Toddlers increase communication and understanding of the environment advances, they understand parent’s patterns and symbols of routine i.e. mothers leave and return Bowlby calls the early years of the Childs development the critical stage, whereby it is important for the child to form an attachment with the mother to build its internal working model of how to better perform cognitively and socially. (Lafreniere, P. 2001). Bowlby bases the child’s development on the internal working model; the child’s way of learning and understanding how relationships are formed, where the mother the monotrophy caregiver is used as a secure base for return after exploration of their environment. For instance, in social interactions with people as well as their physical surroundings, such as their homes room design and furnishings.

If however, a child suffers maternal deprivation or privation in childhood this can cause them separation anxiety or distress, despair as the separation lengthens, finally detachment of emotion when there is no consistent care from a main caregiver, so the child reciprocates these actions. Although, Bowlby believes if the child is deprived or privated of a loving relationship with their mother that in adulthood they may grow into an affectionless psychopath, with no feelings for other people. (Brain and Mukhers, 2005, p36-37). However, Bowlbys’ belief in the child forming only a monotrophy attachment are refuted by Emmerson and Schaffer, who studied 60 Glaswegian babies through monthly interviews with their mothers on the child’s behaviour. They collected data on which the babies smiled with, responded to and showed distress on separation over. The study highlighted that the babies used the people around them according to their needs and how they responded to their cues. For instance, if the people the child was in regular contact with showed patient sensitive responses to the child’s signals in a consistent manner, to such things as playing and meal preparations, this would encourage the baby to trust them. Therefore, an attachment other than the one with their mother may be formed. Consequentially, Emmerson and Schaffer concluded that babies can form multiple attachments of equal quality with people other than their mother. (Brain and Mukhers,2005, p41) cited ( Ainsworth ,1974) . Q1b Taking into consideration cultural influences, evaluate the types of attachment found in infants. (500 words) (Examine the work of Mary Ainsworth carried out in Uganda and the US) 538 words

Mary Ainsworth studied diverse parent types from...

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Bowlbly, J . 1944. 44 Juvenile Thieves: Their Character and Home Life. [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 17th June 2010]
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Child Development Insitute. 2010. Stages of Social-Emotional Development In Children and Teenagers. [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th June 2010]
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Lafreniere, P. 2001.Attachment Between Infant and Caregiver. [online]. Available from:
Murvin, R 2010. Attachment in Development. [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 19th June 2010] 
Schaffer, R,H
Teaching Expertise. 2010 Attachment theory. [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 10th June 2010]
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