Outline and Evaluate Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

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Bowlby’s theory of attachment states that attachment is innate and is passed on generation to generation. It states that a child has a genetic mutation to become attached and this is programmed into their DNA. Support for this theory can be found in the work of Lorenz who found that new born geese became attached to the first person they seen (Lorenz) as they needed protection at birth. Although he demonstrated that this process is not learned his work was based on birds and therefore may not be valid when looking at human behaviour. Bowlby also believes that attachment is to one primary care giver and calls this monotropy. Tronic supported this theory when he found that babies from an African tribe were attached to their mothers even though they were breastfed by multiple women. Bowlby states that social releasers help with the process of attachment where the mother and baby engage in behaviour that develops the attachment process. These social releasers include smiling, eye contact, and the baby crying. He argues that the process occurs during a sensitive period between the ages of 6 months and 5 years where the child develops an internal working model of themselves. It is believed that the child develops an understanding of themselves from the relationship they have with their primary caregiver. If it is a positive relationship they will have a positive self-image. It is also believed that if a child does not develop a positive relationship within the sensitive period they will continue to have problems with future relationships when they grow up. Support for this can be found when Hodge and Tizard found that children who were in care and were unable to form attachments had difficulty in forming relationships throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Although Bowlby’s theory is generally accepted as the prevalent theory, it does have criticisms. First
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