How has attachment theory been used to account for differences in the development of social relationships?
This assignment considers the answers to many fundamental questions. For example: What is it that differentiates the way in which individuals conduct social relationships; Why does one person behave differently to another; Is it fair to suggest that development through childhood plays a role in this; Is there a theory that can account for these differences? One theory that has attempted to address some of these questions is attachment theory. This assignment will therefore look at attachment theory from its beginnings and the key figures that are involved in shaping the theory. It will attempt to analyse any contradictions of the theory and look at the way in which attachment theory may influence a child’s development and behaviours, development through to adulthood and the ability for adults to conduct social relationships.
Attachment theory is a psychological theory which investigates the bond between individuals; it in effect refers primarily to the relationship and bond between a baby and their primary caregiver. Early attachment research was conducted through experiments with animals. Dependency on a presence of another being as an infant is essential to survival within all species. As Psychoanalyst Winnicott (1964: p.88) observed “there is no such thing as a baby……if you set out to describe a baby, you will find you are describing a baby and someone. A baby cannot exist alone, but is essentially part of a relationship”.
This occurrence of dependency is not unique to human beings. Harlow (1958) conducted studies with macaque monkeys which observed infant monkeys separated from their birth mothers who had then been reared in isolation cages. After placing objects in the cages, in the form of a wire mesh cone which had a n attachment of a food source and a cloth cone, it was observed that “the infant monkeys
References: Ainsworth, M. et.al, (1978), cited in Oates, J., Lewis, C., and Lamb, M. (2005), ‘Parenting and Attachment’, in Ding, S. and Littleton, K. (eds) Children’s Personal and Social development, Oxford, Blackwell/The Open University. Bowlby, J., (1969), Attachment and Loss, vol.1. Loss, New York, Basic Books. Bretherton, I. (1985). Attachment theory: Retrospect and prospect. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50 (1-2, Serial No.209). Bretherton, I., & Munholland, K.A. (1999). Internal working models revisited. In J. Cassidy & P.R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 89–111). New York: Guilford Press. Harlow, H .F. (1958), ‘The Nature of love’, American Psychologist, vol.13, pp.573-685. Oates, J., Lewis, C., and Lamb, M. (2005), ‘Animal Studies’, in Ding, S. and Littleton, K. (eds) Children’s Personal and Social development, Oxford, Blackwell/The Open University. Sroufe, L. A., & Waters, E. (1977). Attachment as an organizational construct. Child Development, vol. 48, pp.1184-1199. Winnicott, D. W. (1964) The Child, the Family and the Outside World, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.