Describe and Evaluate Bowlby’s Monotropic Theory

1116 Words May 28th, 2016 5 Pages
Describe and evaluate Bowlby’s monotropic theory [12 marks]

Bowlby’s monotropic theory of attachment after extensive research suggests that emotional bonds had evolutionary functions as he thought it helped a child’s survival. Attachment behaviours in both babies and their caregivers have evolved through natural selection, so the way they behave causes the infants to be biologically programmed with innate behaviours that ensures that attachment does occur. These innate species-specific attachment behaviours are social releasers i.e crying, vocalising and smiling.

Bowlby brought in the concept of monotropy through this that there is one relationship which is more important than all the rest. He, however did not rule out the
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By this, the babies are closer to their mom, avoiding predators hence increases their chances of survival.

However, Rutter’s Romanian orphan study suggests that mothers are not special in the way Bolby believed. Infants displayed a range of attachment behaviour towards attachment figures other than their mothers and there isn’t any particular attachment behaviour that was exclusive to their mom. Schaffer and Emerson as well, found multiple attachments are the norm, in fact 39% of children had their main attachment to someone else than the main carer. These two findings undermine Bowlby’s theory.

Describe and evaluate two studies into animal attachments. [12 marks]

One of the studies was conducted by Harlow in 1959 who wanted to study the mechanisms by which new-born rhesus monkeys bond with their mothers. He tested the learning theory by comparing attachment behaviour in the monkeys given wire surrogate mother producing milk with those given a soft towelling mother producing no milk.

Sixteen baby monkeys were used, four in four different condition. One where there was a cage containing a wire mother producing milk and a towelling mother with no milk. Second, with a cage containing a wire mother producing no milk and the towel mother procuring milk. Third, with a cage containing a wire mother producing milk and fourth, with a cage containing a towelling mother producing milk. He then recorded the amount of time spent with
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