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An Ethological Approach to Personality Development

2014-9-8 16:03| 发布者: 晓飞| 查看: 167| 评论: 0

摘要: An Ethological Approach to Personality DevelopmentThe research done by Bowlby and Ainsworth is quite fascinating in its exploration of the Attachment Theory. Their work broadens our awareness of the i ...
An Ethological Approach to Personality Development
The research done by Bowlby and Ainsworth is quite fascinating in its exploration of the Attachment Theory. Their work broadens our awareness of the interactions between parents and children and the subsequent
  consequences of a lack of this closeness during the adult years of a person's life. While they basically began their research separately, Bowlby and Ainsworth shared information and referred to each other's information and then used each other's data to create the compilation of their work.
Bowlby studied children separated from their parents. One aspect of his work involved an examination of a large number of child thieves. His research showed that majority of these children had been separated from their mothers- this proving his developing understanding of the significance of the mother-figure in a child's life. Bowlby's work also showed that the events of one's actual life greatly affect children. He therefore studied the separation of a child from his parents since that is an easy phenomenon to document.
Ainsworth dealt with the Security Theory, that children need their parents. This creates a sense of sanctuary which then fosters security while they are in their youth and then continuing onto adulthood. The attachment between mother and child is vital if they are to become healthy and secure adults. If a child is separated from his mother at a young age, it is possible to regain the connection, but depending on the length of separation as well as other varying circumstances, the effects could be harmful for the child. The child may fear another departure by his parent and may fear to become close again. It has been proven (ex. Jimmy Robertson) that even at a young age, children understand disconnect by a parent and this can affect them for the rest of their lives. The connection of mother and child has less to do with the necessity of food and more to do with the need for closeness and security. The bond is an active effort by the child.
Frequent or prolonged separation will create anxiety in the child and will foster a defense mechanism whereby the child generates a method to protect itself from future separation. The child may protest the disjointing, may exhibit some anger, and may make attempts at more connection to his mother. The longer the disconnect, the greater the reaction of the child until he just "reorganizes" and learns to deal without that relationship, much like one does after someone close to him dies.
Different children have different levels of attachment. These categories can be called securely-, insecurely-, or non-securely- attached children. According to Ainsworth, children crave connection and the level of attachment depends on the attitude of the mother. If the mother responds to her child's cries immediately and holds the child close to her, she is able to create a secure bond between her and this child. Contrary to the common belief that instantaneous reaction by the mother will spoil the child, in reality, it creates a strong bond between the two and a greater sense of security which will serve the child very well in life. The child will greet the mother more positively when she returns after having left, he will cry less, and he will be more inclined to try to "please" his mother by being less agitated. A secure child will also be more disposed to exploring his environment since he doesn't fear his mother's absence. He views his independence positively since he is certain that she will come when he needs her. Such a child benefits greatly from this scenario. On the other hand, however, a mother who fails to respond to her child promotes in him a fear that she will not come back. In turn, he feels the need to cry more aggressively in order to elicit her response. The baby views this as the mother being insensitive to his needs.
Many of the factors that determine whether or not a child is secure or insecure may have to do with the environment and the relationships the child had at a very young age. A peek into his infancy/childhood may provide an expansive look into his personal relationships when he matures. Closeness to a mother builds trust and allows a child to become secure, knowing that there is someone behind him and available for protection and support. Exploring the past allows us to discover the future and to help people better understand and hopefully improve themselves.
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