Attachment - Bowlby's Monotropic Theory (Evaluation (Evidence for…
Attachment - Bowlby's Monotropic Theory
Attachment is Innate
Gives a survival advantage
Imprinting and attachment evolved because they ensure young animals stay close to their caregivers which protects them from harm.
Theory emphasises importance of child's attachment to one caregiver that is different to all the others.
The more time a baby spent with this primary caregiver the better because:
Law of continuity
- the more constant a child's care, the better the quality of attachment.
Law of accumulated separation
- the effects of every separation add up. So 'the safest dose is therefore a zero dose.'
Attachment system is active within about the first two years.
If a child has not formed an attachment within this time, they will find it more difficult to form one later.
Saw this more as a sensitive period - children are maximally sensitive up to this age.
Babies are born with a set of innate 'cute' behaviours (e.g. smiling, cooing, gripping) that encourage attention from adults.
Activate adult attachment system (make adult feel love towards baby). Recognised therefore that attachment is a reciprocal system.
Internal Working Model
Children form mental representations of the first attachment with their primary caregiver.
This serves as a template for future relationships.
A child whose first attachment experience is a loving and caring one will tend to form an expectation that all relationships are loving and caring. However, a poor first attachment leads to expecting poor treatment from others in later life and treating others in that way.
Also affects ability to be a parent: experience of good parenting will lead to this being replicated in their parenting, which explains why children from functional families tend to go on to have similar families themselves.
Evidence for monotropy is mixed
- Schaffer and Emerson found most babies did attach to one person first, but a significant minority formed multiple attachments at the same time. Contradicts idea that babies form one attachment to a primary caregiver that is unique.
Socially sensitive because of implications for mothers' lifestyles
- theory suggests having substantial time away from a primary attachment figure risks poor quality attachment that affects them in later life. This almost blames mothers for anything that goes wrong in a child's life and forces them to make certain changes in their life (e.g. not returning to work).
Support for internal working model
- Bailey et al. studied 99 mothers; those with poor attachments to their own parents were more likely to have one-year-olds who were poorly attached. Supports idea as attachment is being passed through families.
May have overemphasised the role of attachment
- alternative explanation is child's temperament is important in development of social behaviour. Research has shown that some babies are more anxious and some more sociable as a result of genetic make-up. Temperamental differences could explain later social behaviour rather than attachment.
Clear evidence for social releasers
- Brazleton instructed primary attachment figures to ignore their babies' social releasers. Babies initially showed some distress, but eventually some curled up and just lay motionless. Supports Bowlby's idea about infant social behaviour eliciting
caregiving from adults.