Evolutionary Theory Attachment Essay

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By the age of 10 months the baby’s had formed several attachments, the prime being the mother and father.

In 1958 an experiment by ‘Harry Harlow’ was carried out and used as evidence to attachment.

Shaffer and Emmerson have also expanded on Bowlby’s theory breaking down the theory into stages.

The stages are ‘Indiscriminate attachment, preference for certain people, special preference for a single attachment figure, multiple attachments.

Imprinting must occur within a certain time called a critical period or it will not happen at all. Harlow concluded that monkeys need physical contact with a living caring mother to develop normal social skills.

Perhaps the most influential explanation of attachment was presented by John Bowlby who carried the research with humans in 1940s.These behaviours and attitudes occur naturally, unless there is something preventing their occurrence.Research with animals – Konrad Lorenz (1935) and Harry Harlow (1962) suggests that interaction is more important than food in the formation of attachments. The theory says that animals have an innate ability to recognise their caregiver – this allows them to learn important behaviours.Over the 18 months Shaffer and Emmerson visited the babies and observed their attachments/interaction with their carers, as well as an interview with the carers.From the study Shaffer and Emmerson identified that attachments were made with those who respond to the baby’s needs, and not the person they have spent the most time with; this is called sensitive responsiveness.According to Bowlby’s theory, the infant may make a number of attachments but this single attachment has qualitative differences from any others.Bowlby also thought that these attachments form a template for the development of future relationships.Attachment is displayed with different behaviours, usually shown when feeling upset and threatened.The theory of attachment has been considered to enhance children’s chances of survival.At 7 months ‘Special preference for a single attachment figure’ begins to occur, which is where the baby seeks for particular people.At this stage the baby shows unhappiness when separated from a carer.


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