John Bowlby on Affectional Bond - Dictionary of Arguments
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Affectional Bond/Bowlby/Ainsworth: The notion of affectional systems provided a foundation for a broader lifespan theory of close relationships. Although the mother-infant bond was a primary focus of his initial studies, Harlow viewed the mother-infant bond as a possible prototype for subsequent affectional bonds formed in later developmental stages. >Experiment/Harlow.
Attachment theorists further elaborated the notion of affectional bond by emphasizing the role of emotions in bond formation and maintenance. Bowlby (1979)(1) and Ainsworth (1989)(2) noted that affectional bonds are defined by distress resulting from inexplicable separations, joy upon reunion, and grief at the loss of a relationship partner. >Attachment Theory.
Ainsworth (1989)(2) emphasized that affectional bonds differed on the basis of the behavioral system that motivated bond formation. Whereas children’s bonds with caregivers were motivated by the attachment system, the adult’s bond to the child was motivated by the caregiving system.
Bonds to a peer may be motivated by either affiliation in the case of friends or sexual and reproductive systems in the case of adult pair bonds.
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Harlow’s manipulations of early social experience (>Experiment/Harlow) were extreme by comparison to most subsequent animal and human studies. Initial efforts to consider less extreme forms of early adversity focused on separations between infants and their mothers. In studies of human infants and young children, Bowlby had called attention to a phasic response to prolonged separations. Children responding to prolonged or inexplicable separations such as a mother having to be hospitalized for a period of weeks showed a pattern of initial protest characterized by overt distress and anger, followed by despair, sadness, and withdrawal, which was eventually replaced by what Bowlby described as detachment. This later phase was viewed as a defense that protected the child from painful feelings associated with the separation.
1. Bowlby, J. (1979). The making and breaking of affectional bonds. London: Tavistock Publications.
2. Ainsworth, M. S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 44, 709–716.
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.
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012