Sunday, January 22, 2012

John Bowlby's Attachment Theory

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John Bowlby's attachment theory is based off of the fact that people are born biologically programmed to attach with others, in order to survive. Babies are incapable of raising themselves. Without a caregiver, they would die. Therefore, is it surprising that we are hard-wired with the need for attachment? Failure to make an attachment with a primary caregiver can cause negative consequences in the future.

Did you know that before a woman gives birth, her brain begins releasing more oxytocin? This hormone is critical for the bonding process in both humans and other animals.

Level Of Oxytocin In Pregnant Women Predicts Mother-Child Bond

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Oxytocin Promotes Social Attachment, Beginning with Mother and Child

John Bowlby's Attachment Theory Defines Social Releasers


John Bowlby's attachment theory states that attachment behaviors are triggered by separation, fear, and insecurity. In addition, the fear of strangers is a natural survival mechanism. Therefore, people are born with these instinctive behaviors, in order to trigger contact and closeness with the mother.

"The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals is a basic component of human nature." - John Bowlby

4 Main Discoveries of John Bowlby's Attachment Theory

A baby has a predisposed biological need to attach to a primary caregiver, typically the mother. It is possible for a child to have more than one attachment figure, but early on the baby yearns to make a primary attachment. John Bowlby also believed that the emotional bond between mother and child is very different from other types of relationships. This does not mean that the father is incapable of bonding with a child. In fact, research has showed that the father is just as important as the mother. Fathers bond differently with their children.

The baby should be cared for by the primary caregiver for the first 2 years. John Bowlby believes that if the emotional bond between the infant and primary caregiver is broken or not consistent during the first few years of life, then the child can develop emotional, social, and cognitive problems.

If the baby fails to attach, there may be negative consequences. These include affectionless psychopathy, increased aggression, delinquency, depression, and decreased intelligence.

Attachment creates an internal working model. The internal working model is how the child understands others, the world, and the self. Simply put, how well the baby attaches with his primary caregiver has an influence on how he interacts with others and what he expects from others.

The Theory of Attachment Began with John Bowlby

John Bowlby's attachment theory serves as the foundation of the theory of attachment. Many psychologists have researched attachment and added onto John Bowlby's basics of attachment.

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