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  • Created on: 27-10-11 19:36

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What is an attachment?
According to Shaffer (1993), an attachment is `a close emotional relationship between
two persons, characterised by mutual affection and a desire to maintain proximity
Maccoby and Shaffer and Emerson identified four main key behaviours of
Seeking proximity to primary caregiver- the infant tries to stay close to its `attachment
Distress on separation. When caregiver and infants are separated, both experience
feelings of distress.
Pleasure when reunited- obvious pleasure is shown when the child is reunited with
his/hers caregiver.
General orientation of behaviour primary caregiver. The infant is aware of the
caregiver and may seek reassurance and contact.
When do attachments begin?
Shaffer and Emerson (1964) argued that infants go through three stages in the early
development of attachments to others. This theory was based on findings from their classic
large longitudinal study in which they followed 60 infants from a mainly working class every 4
weeks until they were 1 years old and then again when they were 18 months old.
His results shown that specific attachment occurred between 6-8 months and fear of
strangers occurred about a month later. However there was a lot of individual differences.
Intensely attached infants had mother who were sensitive to their needs whilst other failed
to make contact and interact with their children. Soon the infants also became attached to
other people. 31% of these infants had around 5 attachments, 30% still had their mother
as the main attachment source, 13% were attached to just one person. In 39% of the
cases were children who weren't fed.
Criticisms: Data was collected either directly or by mothers writing their observations
down in their diaries. Busy mothers may of missed out on writing certain, important things
Some infants could recognise their mothers face and pay attention to her when introduced
to him/her. E.G he set up a situation in which infants looked at a face while hearing a voice.
Infants would find it distressing if they saw a picture of their mother with the addition of
someone else's voice.

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Advantage: However this sort of data is much more accurate as it's been done for a very
long time in natural situations. They would also have more external validity.
Two ways of measuring their attachment was to consider them into 2
Separation protest- cries and holds out their arms when left by himself.
Stranger anxiety- distress experienced when approached by a stranger.…read more

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This shows us that mothers sensitivity is very
important during attachment.
Can secure attachment last?
Wartner et al ( 1994) assessed infants attachment patterns to their mothers at the
age of 12 months using the category of secure attachment plus three insecure attachment
categories. They then re-assesed the childrens attachment at the age of 6. 82% of the
children remained in the same category over the 5 years period. This indicates great
consistency of attachment type over time.…read more

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Ainsworth and Bell proposed 3 attachment types.
Type of Name of % Of
Characteristics of attachment:
attachment: attachment: infants:
Indifferent to caregiver - unconcerned if present or
Type A 15% absent. Signs of distress when left alone but could
be comforted by caregiver or stranger.
Stay close to caregiver and are distressed by their
Type B 70% departure but easily comforted on return. Stranger
could give limited comfort.…read more

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The ethics of inducing anxiety in the caregivers and infants may be questioned.( they may
feel worried due to being observed.
The results cannot be generalised to cultures other than that of USA. it is biased
The situation puts infants into 3 categories. This oversimplifies matters because
infants within any given category differ from each other in their attachment behaviour. E.g
two children may be showing avoidant attachment, but one might display much more
avoidant behaviour than the other.…read more

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Is the view that a child's temperament( personality) (Kagan) is responsible for the quality of
attachment between the child and its caregiver as opposed to the view that experience is
more important.
Belsy and Rovine( 1987) ( against bowlbys theory)
Results: reported that newborns showing signs of behavioural instability * shaking) were
less likely than others to become securely attached to their mothers.…read more

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The most basic principle of learning theory is that all behaviour has been learned. This means
that all behaviour isn't innate and doesn't depend on genetic factors. Learning theorists
called the behaviourists argued that learning is the result of conditioning, which is a form of
learning. According to the behaviourists there are two main forms of condition- classical and
operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning- This is when you associate an unconditioned stimulus with an
unconditioned response. E.…read more

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This was because the cloth mother provided contact comfort which the monkeys clearly
regarded as more important than food. This also goes against the cupboard love theory.
Unfortunately the monkeys didn't develop into normal adults. Later in life they were either
indifferent or abusive to other monkeys, and had difficulty with mating and parenting. These
findings show that contact comfort is preferable ( but not sufficient) for a healthy
development.…read more

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In other words direct associations are formed between stimuli and
responses. For example, a rat sees a lever and presses it to receive food as a reward. On the
other hand, in social learning it is argued that we also learn through indirect approaches. E.g
we learn to produce a new form of behaviour by seing someone else perform that behaviour
and being reinforced or rewarded for performing it.
Hay and Vespo (1988) used social learning theory to explain attachment.…read more

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Social learning theory provides a description of some of the processes involved in parent
child attachment. However as Durkin pointed out, the strong emotional intensity of many
parent-child attachments is not really explained in social learning.
Evolutionary Perspective: Bowlby
He further developed Freuds views by talking about imprinting which is when an animals
follow the largest moving object for protection after hatching. This is all natural and not
learned.…read more


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