Developmental Psychology: From Infancy to Adulthood by Ann Birch (auth.)

By Ann Birch (auth.)

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The babies also develop strong bonds with their own infant peers, which leads to much greater social involvement than is usually observed in such young children. Security of attachment Much research into attachment behaviour in babies has been carried out by Mary Ainsworth and her colleagues (1967, 1974). She has described behaviours such as smiling and vocalising preferentially to the mother, crying when the mother leaves the room, following the mother and lifting arms to her, using the mother as a secure base from which to explore in a strange situation and as a refuge to retreat to when frightened.

According to Bowlby, maternal deprivation could also lead to such conditions as depression, enuresis (bed-wetting) and dwarfism (stunted physical growth). As we saw in the last section, Bowlby later interpreted many of his earlier observations in the light of ethological theory. He emphasised the survival function of the human infant's need to say close to and form an attachment with its mother. 2). A major aspect of Bowlby'S maternal deprivation theory was his proposal that there was a critical period, or optimal time, during the first three years of life when this primary attachment should occur.

Research findings which have challenged Bowlby's views Below is a brief outline of some of the research findings which have contradicted or challenged some of Bowlby's views. Rutter (1972) carried out a study in which he compared a large number of boys aged 9-12 on the Isle of Wight with a similar group in London. All the children in both groups had been separated from their parents for a variety of different reasons at some point in early childhood. Some of the boys went on to become disturbed and delinquent; others did not.

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