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OUTLINE & EVALUATION OF BOWLBY'S THEORY

OUTLINE & EVALUATION OF BOWLBY'S THEORY

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Published by: myka551 on Mar 03, 2011
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11/20/2012

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Mai YongsakulPsychology: ATTACHMENTFriday 1
st
October 2010Mr. Smith
OUTLINE & EVALUATION OF BOWLBY'STHEORY 
John Bowlby's theory was more evolutionary based. He proposed that attacment wasimportant for survival – infants are physically helpless and need adults to nurture, care andprotect them in order for them to grow. Without this assistance, they would not survive.Therefore, it is likely that human beings had been evolved in such a way that infants were bornwith an intrinsic tedency to form an attachment in order to increase their chances of survival.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 helpedthem 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 wasconsidered to have a long-term benefit in addition to the short-temr beneifit of ensuring foodand safety. In the long term, it could be fundamental importance for emotional relationshipsbecause it would provide a template for those relationships. However there is the concept of a'critical period' which is a feature of biological characteristics. The 'critical period' was when thedevelopment does not take place during the set developmental period that attacments weresupposed to happen – this would then result in the infant making no attachment to a carer atall. It is believed that if a child does not form an attachment before the age of 2.5 years, then itwould not be possible thereafter.There are a number of case studies that show evidence supporting Bowlby's theory.Sroufe et al (1999) conducted an experiment in which he followed a group of children from theage of 12 months to adolescence. They were observed throughout their childhood by teachers,trained observers and camp counsellors at special events arranged for the children. At the endof the experiment, Sroufe's results showed that those children who were rated as beingsecurely attached in infancy were also rated as being more popular, having more initiative andbeing higher in social competence as well as self-confidence and self-esteem. This indicatedthat social competence was linked with early attacment style, supporting Bowlby's views of thelong-term benefits of attachment. Other case studies also had evidence to support this as well.Hodges and Tizard (1989) preformed a longitudinal study of children living in orphanages whohad formed no attachments in the early parts of their lives – they later on discovered that itwas these children that had difficulties forming relationships with peers. The results of otherexperiments that were conducted were similar as well: children that had secure attchmentswere less dependent on their teacher – and they also had better relationships throughout theirchildhood and adulthood as well.On the other hand, there are also many theories and experiements that challengedBowlby's theory. Due to the new technology and scientific research done today, there was nodirect evidence suggesting that there was a gene for attachments. Another case studychallenging Bowlby's theory was Schaffer and Emerson's (1964) study: their results showedthat several of the infants that they observed formed multiple attchments instead of just one.This factor appeared to show that the infant did not have a preferred attchment figure whichtoo argued against Bowlby's theory. The Czech twins case is probably the strongest evidenceagainst Bowlby's theory. The twins had been locked pu and isolated from the oustide world aswell as being abused from their stepmother since birth. When they were discovered at the ageof 7, they had no language skills ag all – however after loving care from two sisters, by the ageof 14 the twins started to show normal and social intellecutual fuctioning and were able to formmeaningful attachments. The evidence in this case dismisses the 'critical period' feature inBowlby's theory compeltely as it shows that even though the twins were not able to create any

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