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Modifications Of Bowlby's Attachment Theory Essay

2432 words - 10 pages

Modifications of Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Bowlby's original theory of attachment was concerned with the bonding
relationship that develops between an infant and his primary
caregiver. He believed the process of bonding to have a biological
basis as the genes of those infants who successfully sought the
protection of a caregiver (from predators and other dangers) will have
survived and been passed on. Bowlby also formulated the Maternal
Deprivation hypothesis (1953) which is associated with his theory of
attachment and resulted from a study on delinquent boys. Bowlby found
that many of these boys shared a history of institutionalised care and
concluded that infants need to bond with and maintain a loving
relationship with a mother figure, for good mental health. This
recommendation came at a time when men had returned from the 2nd.
World War and needed employment. Bowlby's findings affected childcare
as it provided a reason for the nurseries (started during the war) to
close, persuading mothers back into their traditional role at home and
thus freeing up jobs for the men.

According to Bowlby's attachment theory, separation from the caregiver
is perceived as threatening by the infant and therefore invokes
proximity promoting or attachment behaviours in order to restore
proximity to the caregiver. These behaviours include crying, clinging
and calling out. Ainsworth went on to state that the caregiver who has
bonded with the infant would remain available to the infant, providing
a secure base from which that infant can explore the environment
around him. Ainsworth was interested in the quality of the
infant/caregiver relationship and helped develop the 'Strange
Situation' technique which she used to identify 3 patterns of

The 'Strange Situation' experiment is conducted in a laboratory, which
is set up as a playroom, and observed through a 2-way mirror. The
quality of attachment is judged by the reunion behaviour displayed by
the infant after a separation from the mother. The 3 patterns of
attachment are known as Type B - secure attachment pattern, Type A -
insecure attachment pattern anxious/avoidant and Type C - insecure
attachment pattern anxious/ambivalent. A 4th. pattern was later
identified as Type D - disorganised attachment pattern sometimes found
where there is high social risk.

Ainsworth believed that insecure attachments were the result of the
mother figure not being both available and responsive to the infant.
This is sometimes described as a lack of sensitivity from the mother
figure. In the TV program 'Attachment' we are shown an example of a
secure attachment followed by an insecure (anxious/avoidant)
attachment as observed in a 'Strange Situation' experiment. The mother
of the securely attached infant scooped the child up on re-entering

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