Child Psychology - Bowlby's Theory of Attachment


Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment

  •  Attachment is a strong emotional bond between two people.
  •  Primary Care Giver = PCG
  •  An evolutionary theory believing infants are born with genes to become attached to a PCG.
  •  There are five main elements:
    • Adaptive – Attachments are adaptive, making humans more likely to survive and giving an ‘adaptive advantage’. If an infant attaches, they are kept safe, warm and fed and if they don’t, they die.
  • Social Releasers – Physical (e.g. baby face) and behavioural (e.g. cooing, giggling) features that unlock the innate tendency in adults to care for them. If they are loved, they are cared for and will survive.
  • Critical Period – Infants have to form attachments between birth and 30 months old as if they don’t they are damaged socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically for life. It happens in three stages:
    • Phase 1 (Pre-Attachment) – Child responds indiscriminately to all adults using social releasers to promote proximity.
    • Phase 2 – Social releasers directed at PCG only.
    • Phase 3 (Clear Cut Attachment) – Intense attachment shown to PCG (e.g. separation anxiety) until about 2 years old.
  • Monotropy – Infants form one special attachment to the PCG called the ‘Monotropic Bond’in the critical period. It is more important than…


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