Bowlby's monotropic theory of attachment (Evaluation (Support for the…
Bowlby's monotropic theory of attachment
Why attachments form
In the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness (EEA), parents who are attached to their offspring provide the care needed for survival. Infants with an attachment seek proximity ensuring they are well protected. Those possessing this attachment trait are more likely to survive, reproduce and pass on the trait to the next generation.
How attachments form
Bowlby argued that who infants attach to is determined by sensitivity. The concept of caregiver sensitivity is an important feature of Ainsworth's work and research into caregiver - infant interactions. Infants who do not form an attachment during the critical period seem to have difficulty forming attachments later in life.
are innate mechanisms that explain how attachments are formed. We are predisposed to find social releasers appealing which elicit caregiving response.
Infants have one special emotional bond, usually to their biological mother. Secondary attachments also form, providing the infant with an emotional safety net which is important for healthy psychological and social development.
The consequences of attachment
The infant forms a mental representation of their monotropic relationship- an internal working model which gives an insight into the caregiver's behaviour. The model provides a template for all future relationships. The continuity hypothesis predicts strongly attached infants continue to be socially and emotionally competent as adults, whereas adults with insecure childhood attachments have more difficulties.
Support for the continuity hypothesis
The Minnesota parent-child study found infants classified as securely attached were rated highest for social competence, were less isolated, and more popular and empathetic in late adolescence (Sroufe et al., 2005)
Age of attachment is species specific
Young monkeys cling to their mother as she moves around their habitat while human mothers carry their infants. Only when human infants start crawling is attachment vital to ensure proximity to the caregiver. As attachments in humans develop during this time the concept of attachment as an adaptive function is supported.
Multiple attachments versus monotropy
Rutter (1995) argued that all attachment figures are equally important, integrating to form an internal working model. In contrast Bowlby distinguishes between primary and secondary attachments, but does suggest secondary attachments contribute. Grossmann and Grosmann (1991) found fathers play a key role as secondary attachments in infant's social development.
A sensitive period rather than a 'critical' period
Rutter and Sonuga-Barke (2010) found while it is less likely attachments will form after the critical period it is not impossible. Researchers prefer to use the term sensitive period to describe the period of time when the child is most receptive to attachment formation.
Temperament rather than sensitivity determines attachment
Kagan (1984) proposes infants with an 'easy' temperament are easier to interact with and so are more likely to form secure attachments. 'Difficult' children aged 1 to 3 days old were later judged to be more likely to have insecure attachments (Belsky and Rovine,1987).
The idea that emotionally secure infants go on to be emotionally secure trusting and confident adults.
A biologically determined period during which certain characteristics develop. Outside this time window such development will not be possible.
Internal working model:
A mental model of the world which enables individuals to predict and control their environment. In the case of attachment, the model relates to a person's expectations about relationships.
The relationship the infant has with his/her primary attachment figure is of special significance in emotional development.
A social behaviour or characteristic that elicits a caregiving and leads to attachment.