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John Bowlby on Behavioral System - Dictionary of Arguments
Corr I 232
Behavioral System/attachment theory/Bowlby/Shaver/Mikulincer: According to Bowlby (1973)(1), the ability of a behavioural system to achieve its set-goal depends on a person’s transactions with the external world. Although behavioural systems are innate intrapsychic mechanisms, which presumably operate mainly at a subcortical level and in an automatic, reflexive manner, they are manifested in actual behaviour, guide people’s transactions with the social world, and can be affected or shaped by others’ responses. Over time, social encounters mould the parameters of a person’s behavioural systems in ways that produce fairly stable individual differences in strategies and behaviours; that is, a person’s neural and behavioural capacities become ‘programmed’ to fit with major close relationship partners, or attachment figures.
Representation/Bowlby: Bowlby (1973)(1) assumed that the residues of such social encounters are stored as mental representations of person-environment transactions, which he called working models of self and other, and that these representations shape the functioning of a person’s behavioural system and the way he or she behaves in particular social situations.
1. Bowlby, J. 1973. Attachment and loss, vol. II, Separation: anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books
Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, “Attachment theory: I. Motivational, individual-differences and structural aspects”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press
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Slater I 15
Behavioral System/Bowlby: Bowlby (1969(1)) formalized Harlow’s work into a theory of control systems that were activated and terminated by environmental conditions. Bowlby’s theory emphasized contextual factors that both activated and terminated behavioral systems.
In infancy, he viewed the attachment, fear, and exploratory systems as each having set goals that needed to be maintained based on ongoing monitoring of and feedback from the environment.
Control systems theory in turn guided systematic observations of human infants in the village and home environment (Ainsworth, 1967)(2). It also led to the development of a laboratory paradigm that tested infants’ abilities to use their caregiver as a source of safety and base for exploration (Ainsworth, Blehar, Wall, & Waters, 1978)(3). The development of Ainsworth’s Strange Situation paradigm (>Situation/Ainsworth) – in which infants’ responses to separation from, and subsequent reunion with, their mother, and their reactions to an unfamiliar woman were recorded – in turn became a paradigm for assessing individual differences in the security of infants’ relationships with their primary caregiver.
1. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.
2. Ainsworth, M. S. (1967). Infancy in Uganda. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
3. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Roger Kobak, “Attachment and Early Social deprivation. Revisiting Harlow’s Monkey Studies”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012
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