Secondly, he suggests that infants are born with innate social releasers, such as crying and smiling, and that they also have cute faces to elicit care-giving. Besides this, Bowlby believed that there is a Critical period to form an attachment which is 2 ½ years. It is important that babies form attachment before this critical period as Bowlby said that, if this didn’t happen it will be much more difficult thereafter, and you will also be damaged for life; socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Furthermore, he suggested that a baby focuses its attention on one special person, which is the definition of monotropy. Bowlby claimed that infants need one special attachment relationship that is qualatively different from all others.
Describe and Evaluate One Theory of Attachment and Consider its Significance on Child Rearing Today Bowlby (1951) was influenced by ethological studies that suggested infants were "genetically programmed to form attachments to a single caregiver within a critical time period." The critical time period described is called the "sensitive period," it is a period of time in which something is likely to occur. He suggested that "mother love in infancy is as important for mental health as vitamins and proteins are for physical health." Bowlby focused on the mother as the attachment figure. Bowlby argued that attachment was an "evolved mechanism;" an innate response that ensured the survival of the child.
This supports the view that attachment and caregiving are universal and not influenced by different cultural practices. This also links to Darwin’s theory that if an infant stays close to its mother will more likely survive and therefore any trait related to such ‘attachment’ will be naturally selected. Bowlby suggested that infants form multiple attachments but these form a hierarchy, with one attachment having a special importance and emotional development. Studies have shown this to be true, such as Tronick et al. and the study by Schaffer and Emerson.
John Bowlby suggested that infants are born with the innate tendency to form an attachment. The attachment is a reciprocal relationship between the infant and its primary caregiver. This suggests that adults have an innate ability to form an attachment with their infant. This idea is supported by a study carried out by Lorenz. The results of this study suggest that animals ‘imprint’ on the first moving object they see.
Our early attachment styles are established in childhood through the infant/caregiver relationship. In addition to this, Bowlby believed that attachment had an evolutionary component; it aids in survival. "The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals [is] a basic component of human nature" (Bowlby, 1988, 3). Characteristics of Attachment Bowlby believed that there are four distinguishing characteristics of attachment: Proximity Maintenance - The desire to be near the people we are attached to. Safe Haven - Returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety in the face of a fear or threat.
In addition he suggested the idea of monotropy, which is the suggestion that infants tend to direct attachment behaviours towards a single attachment figure, and that there is one special bond and this is typically between a mother and its child. The attachment being two ways is very important, and Bowlby believed that both parties should find satisfaction and enjoyment from the relationship. He suggested that babies are born programmed to behave in ways that will make attachments easier to form, for example they will display behaviour that encourages attention from adults, these include smiling and cooing etc. These are known as social releasers because the point of
On the other hand, adults/ the care-givers of an infant too develop an attachment to them. Bowlby suggested that all human beings had some sort of innate programming which helped them form attachments – adults would have a drive for helping the infant to survive: caring, nurturing, feeding them etc. The bond/attachment between the care-giver and infant was considered to have a long-term benefit in addition to the short-term benefit of ensuring food and safety. In the long term, it could be fundamental importance for emotional relationships because it would provide a template for those relationships. However there is the concept of a ‘critical period' which is a feature of biological characteristics.
He proposed a theory of continuation; individuals who are securely attached during infancy develop to be socially and emotionally competent in the future, on the other hand, insecurely attached children have more social and emotional difficulties later on in childhood and adulthood. The reason behind this is because the mother’s behaviour creates an internal working model of relationships that in effect leads the infants to expect the same in later relationships. According to Bowlby, children have an innate determination to become attached to a caregiver because it has long-term benefits as does Imprinting. This is because both attachment and imprinting ensures that a young child/animal stays close to a caregiver who can provide it with food, comfort and protection. In this way, attachment and imprinting are adaptive behaviours.
They believe that securely attached infants would become autonomous adults; these know the importance of their past relationships and can recall positive and negative experiences. Those that had insecure attachments would fall into the dismissing or preoccupied category. They would see their childhood experiences as either unimportant and dismiss them or as important but cannot resolve issues. Using the AAI, Hamilton (1994) studied 30 adolescents and found a strong correlation between infant attachment type and adult attachment type. Similarly Steinberg (1990) found that securely attached adolescents were more likely to maintain healthy relationships with their parents than those classified as dismissive or preoccupied.
Attachment can form at any age but early attachments are formed through being sociable from birth, this happens through interactions with people from the moment they are born. An example of a social interaction that can later contribute to the child forming a bond is face recognition. This is being able to recognise familiar faces and therefore can be the start of a bond. If early attachment is made with another person, for example this may be the main carer, then the child is likely to go on to strengthen that bond until firm attachments are made. Attachment allows the child to learn trust and feel secure with the person they are bonding with, this is important in how they form relationships with others.