Essay On Attachment Theory

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Overview of Attachment Theory

Attachment theory tries to describe the evolution of personality and behaviour in relationships and it gives a reason for the difference in a person’s emotional and relationship attitudes.
In the beginning, it looked at the mechanics of relationships between children and their parents but it has since been expanded to cover the entire life of the human being (Howe, 2000).
Attachment theory includes insights learned from evolutionary theory, ethology, systems theory and developmental psychology (Howe, 2001).
Attachment theory is often described as a psychosocial theory as it explores the human experience which is formed by the interaction between the psychology of the individual and the social environment (Howe,
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Since the ‘50s, Bowlby worked alone and with distinguished colleagues such as psychoanalyst James Robertson, ethologist/zoologist Robert Hinde and psychologist Mary Ainsworth on several different studies.
Bowlby suggested that due to the attachment between children and their carers, children suffer loss when they are separated. Bowlby’s study with the ethologist Robert Hinde, inspired the idea that certain attachment behaviours have evolved as a survival mechanism (Bergen, 2008). The core of the theory today is that the quality of close relationships affects personality, emotional and social development not only in childhood but throughout the life of the individual (Howe, 2001). This suggests that attachment theory is effectively a biological, psychological and social theory of human development.

A human baby is born with poorly developed sight and is unable to move. As a consequence to this he is vulnerable and is completely dependent on a carer for survival (Winston, 2003). To improve the chances of survival, the baby is born with pre-programmed and automatic behaviour which are prompted by environmental factors (Bergen, 2008). Bowlby theorised that when a young child feels distressed, frightened or confused, attachment behaviour is triggered and this serves to bring the child closer to their mother* who provides the desired comfort, care and protection (Bowlby,
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