Attachment can be described using two theories, one being Bowlby’s attachment theory which is based on an evolutionary perspective. The theory suggests that evolution has produced a behaviour that is essential to the survival to allow the passing on of genes. An infant that keeps close to their mother is more likely to survive. The traits that lead to that attachment will be naturally selected. Bowlby has the idea that attachment has evolved and it is innate as it increases the likelihood of survival and reproduction, he suggests that children are already born with this innate drive and that they were born to perform these behaviours and born to attain attachment. To enhance the survival of their offspring caregiving is also adaptive and we are born to care for our children. He suggests that infants were born with social releasers (for example: crying/smiling) which encourage caregiving.
Bowlby also suggests that there is a best time to form an attachment, this is called the sensitive period where infants are most sensitive to development of attachments and Bowlby would suggest that this is when the child is 3-6 months old. However, attachment can still take place at other times but it becomes increasingly difficult. Attachment acts as a secure base for exploration, which influences independence rather than dependence. Bowlby argues that infants form a single special attachment with one particular attachment figure, usually the mother. This is called monotropy. Other attachments may develop in a hierarchy. An infant may therefore have a primary monotropy attachment to its mother, and below her the hierarchy of attachments might include its father, siblings, grandparents, etc. Another key feature of Bowlby’s theory is that the infant develops an internal working model of relationships that guides relationship behaviour as an older child and an adult. This leads to the continuity hypothesis