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Attachment Theory

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Theory Analysis ÐŽV Attachment Theory



1. Founder: John Bowlby (1969)

2. Theoretical Background: Attachment theory is originated from psycho-analytical, combined the wisdom of ethology, biology and developmental psychology. The central theme of the theory is the essence of an infantÐŽ¦s tie to his/her primary caregiver which is vital to current and later psychological functioning. It is an individualistic theory as it describes the interaction between an infant and one person (e.g. mother) or few significant caregivers.

3. Epistemic Orientation: The theory is built on ethological concept of behavioral systems which are inspired by LorenzÐŽ¦s (1952) studies of imprinting in baby geese, and the biological based system of behavior that exists between the attachment figure and the child. Theory is built on developmental psychology and observable experiences of hospitalized and institutionalized children who are isolated kept apart from their parents.

4. Evolution of the theory: The founder, John Bowlby, participated as a volunteer at a school for maladjusted children in 1930s after his graduation. He got inspiration from the personality developmental problems of two school boys. One was a very distant and an affectionless boy who had no stable mother figure and was prone to stealing, whereas another was so anxious that he always acted as a shadow of Bowlby. His curiosity of the effects of early family relationships on personality development prompted him to pursue his career in the child psychiatry. John Bowlby discovered the linkage between the personality development of oneself to histories of maternal deprivation and separation from his first empirical study. Bowlby did a research project on the hospitalized and institutionalized children who were separated from their parents in 1948. The major conclusion was a close, warm and continuous caregiving relationship was fundamental to grow up mentally healthy. Bowlby disagreed with previous behavior and social learning theorists uphold the ideas of infantÐŽ¦s experiences of being cared for physically. Attachments are showed up when infants are first exposed to pleasurable physical care and infants would associate the person caring for them as vital and rewarding. Some behaviorists also make use of the principles of reward and punishment to explain the mother-child relationship. Many questions are remained as those theories neglect the importance of carersÐŽ¦ ability to ease and calm in times of danger as well as gentle and physical caring are not necessarily generated close attachment. Bowlby was also inspired by LorenzÐŽ¦s (1952) studies of imprinting in baby geese and it highlighted the formation of social tie was not necessarily connected to feeding. Bowlby and his Canadian student, Mary Ainsworth, put the theory forward with ethological perspectives and it is often referred to ÐŽ§Attachment TheoryЎЁ nowadays.

Type of phenomenon

The hospitalized and institutionalized children who were separated fro their parents during World War Two.

The main body of the Theory

BowlbyÐŽ¦s theory of attachment drew the attention of the nature of a childÐŽ¦s tie to the primary caregiver was significant to current and future psychological functioning. He was especially interested in the areas of the relationship between unsatisfactory social relationships and psychopathology and the experience of traumatic separation in early life. Bowlby thought that the attachment relationship between infants and significant carers was established as human infants is similar to the mostly species, which was quipped with a built-in-mechanism to ensure survival. Infants adhered to main carers and form a very close relationship at the end of the 1st year and 1.5 years of life because of protection gained from danger and facilitating infants to learn to protect themselves. As time passed by, infants were able to endure separation, while a true and enduring affectionate bond was established and continued to sustain, which served a secure base across time and distance. An internal working model of attachment was developed with the inner representation of this parent-child bond became a core feature of an individual personality structure. It performed as a reference for all subsequent attachment relationships throughout the lifespan.

Key theoretical questions

1. What is/are the nature of a childÐŽ¦s tie to the primary caregiver which was significant to current and future psychological functioning and attachment relationship?

2. How is the ethological concept of behavioral systems vital and relevant to moth-child relationship?

3. What is/are the effect(s) of early family relationship on personality development of a child?

4. What is intergenerational transmission of attachment relations from caregiver to child?

Major concepts

1. Biological based system of behavior: Human beings owned a biological based ÐŽ§attachment systemЎЁ that is directed at maintain gab balance between seeking attachment security and exploring the environment. The attachment system will be activated (primary strategy) when a person feels threatened, anxious or turned blue for seeking proximity to an ÐŽ§attachment figureЎЁ whom is regarded to render comfort and support in these unfavorable situations. It aims at gaining a sense of security. Secondary attachment strategy establishes if the primary strategy appears to fail.

2. Internal working model: It comprises the expectations of a child regarding the availability and approachability in stressful situations towards the caregiver. The child will finally develop a set of postulates from these expectations about how close the relationships operate and view itself as worthy of love and support or not, and others as reliable or unreliable. As time goes by with the continuous interaction with the caregivers, together with repetitive experiences, the child will master a working model that is resistant to dramatic shift. An internal working model of attachment was developed with the inner representation of this parent-child bond became a core feature of an individual personality structure which is called ÐŽ§attachment styleЎЁ.

3. Bowlby put efforts in fundamental work of the Attachment Theory. The attachment experiences of a child with the caregivers (or ÐŽ§attachment figureЎЁ) have



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