Bowlbys Ethological Theory of Attachment

Topics: Infant, Attachment theory, Childbirth Pages: 2 (689 words) Published: October 29, 2013

Bowlby's Ethological Theory of Attachment

Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment recognizes the development of attachment between the infant and their caregiver as a revolved response in the first two years of life. Furthermore, we will learn about some of the genetic and environmental influences and their effects on this theory. Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment recognizes the infant’s emotional tie to the caregiver as an evolved response that promotes survival (Burk, 2010, p. 196). Bowlby believed that the human infant, like the young of other animals is born with a set of behaviors that help keep the parent nearby to protect and provide support while exploring the environment (Encyclopaedic dictionary of psychology, 2006). Bowlby pointed out that attachment can best be understood in the context of evolutionary survival of the species, ensuring both safety and competence is the most important fact (Burk, 2010). Bowlby’s theory also states that the infant’s relationship with the parents begins as a set of signals that call the parent to the baby. Over time an affectionate bond develops and that attachment develops in four phases. Phase one; the pre-attachment phase (birth to six weeks) is where the “built in signals” (crying, smiling, and grasping) bring close contact with other humans that comfort them. Infants of this age can recognize their own mother’s smell and voice (Burk, 2010, Chapter 3), but there is no attachment to the mother, as the infant does not mind being left with other humans. Phase two; the attachment-in-the-making phase (six weeks to six to eight months). In this phase infants respond differently to a familiar parent than to a stranger. Infants begin to develop a sense of trust that a parent will respond when signaled, but they do not protest when separated from that parent. Phase three; the “clear-cut” phase (six to eight months to 18 months to two years). This phase is where babies display separation anxiety,...

References: Burk, L. E. (2010). Development through the lifespan (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Ethological theory of attachment in encyclopaedic dictionary of psychology. (2006). In Ethological theory of attachment. Retrieved from
Ludolph, P. S., & Dale, M. D. (2012). Attachment in child custody: An additive factor, not a determinative one. Family Law Quarterly, 46(1), 1-40. Retrieved from
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