Revision notes for Edexcel A2 Psychology (Unit 3 - Section B)

Includes notes on:

  • Observations
  • Case studies
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Bowlby's theory of attachment
  • Ainsworth and the Strange Situation
  • Deprivation
  • Privation
  • Autism and 2 explanations
  • Bowlby (1944)
  • Curtiss (1977)
  • Is daycare harmful for chidren?
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  • Created by: Anna Gray
  • Created on: 26-03-16 14:28

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Naturalistic Observations
Naturalistic observations are very useful in child psychology and they have been used to
observe play and language development. Because they are in a natural setting they show
natural behaviour which is what the researcher wants to see.
They aid psychologists understanding in `real' behaviour and help children to develop
appropriate behaviour. Also, the data gathered is valid because there is little interference
with the behaviour of the child.
Time sampling is often used, where times are allocated and the researcher observes and
records the behaviour in each time period to help build a detailed picture of the child's
Naturalistic observations are valid because they produce data that is unaffected by other
variables such as an artificial setting. They are ethical also consent does need to be gained
especially if it is covert research. Because children are involved parental research can be
obtained, even in the case of a covert study. They have reliability because more than one
researcher can observe and results can be compared meaning there is interrater reliability.
An issue is that there is sometimes observerdrift where the observers move away from what
they planned to observe and therefore there may be some bias. Reliability is also an issue
because the observation cannot always be repeated if there is a set of circumstances that
might not occur again.
Structured Observations
Structured observations can also be used to gather information about a child's behaviour,
especially if it is inappropriate.
A situation may be set up by the teacher, researcher or psychologist and then the observer
can record certain information about the behaviour of the child in that situation.
They use the ABC model:
1) Antecedent ­ what sets the behaviour off
2) Behaviour ­ what occurs
3) Consequence ­ what happens as a result of the behaviour
Ainsworth used a structured observation with the strange situation where she looked at
attachment between parents and their children.
Structured observations have a standardised procedure and enough detail to be replicable
meaning that they can be tested for reliability. They are used to provide evidence to they
tend to be reliably recorded (the ABC model helps with this). Also they are efficient in terms
of time and money because there is no need for the behaviour to occur.

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However, they do lack validity because there may be demand characteristics and social
desirability meaning that they are less valid than naturalistic observations. Also, they are less
likely to involve informed consent, although consent for young children consent needs to
come from their parents.…read more

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Case Studies
Case studies allow data to be gathered that is in depth and detailed and they usually study
an individual or group of people who are connected in some way. Whoever is being studied
becomes the focus of the case study.
Case studies tend to be reliable because they use many different research methods
meaning that triangulation can be used and data can be compared. They also tend to be
valid because data is gathered within a natural environment.…read more

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CrossCultural Research
Ainsworth is known for taking a crosscultural approach to studying child psychology. She
implemented the same procedure of experiments in different cultures and then drew
comparisons between the different places.…read more

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Longitudinal Studies
Longitudinal studies follow a particular group over a period of time. A test or observation is
repeated over the study which usually lasts a long time and allows all the data to be
gathered. For example, to study the effects of age a researcher might study a group of
children when they are 4 and then again when they are 16. They use either the same
method of data collection or take a similar approach to case studies and use many different
methods.…read more

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment
Bowlby was a psychoanalyst who followed the ideas of Freud and believed that an infant
was strongly affected by the beginning of their life. By attachment, he meant a warm,
continuous, loving relationship with one person ­ attachment is a twoway emotional bond
where people depend on one another for a sense of security.
Psychodynamic Roots
Bowlby formed his theory after working with maladjusted and delinquent children.…read more

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Things like separation, insecurity or fear would trigger the instinct in the child to go to the
attachment figure. This is supported by studies such as Lorenz and the geese and the work
of Harlow with the monkeys.
The Theory
Bowlby suggested that children deprived of their attachment figure would have problems
later on in life. He acknowledged that the bond needed to be with one specific attachment
figure with didn't have to be the mother.…read more

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Evaluating Bowlby's Theory of Attachment
Harlow's study of the monkeys demonstrated attachment and the importance of attachment
in relationships. The baby monkeys were removed from their mothers and offered two wire
mothers instead. One was covered in soft towel and the other provided food but was hard.
The monkey's preferred to spend time gaining comfort from the towel monkey and were
better adjusted physically and mentally if they chose to.…read more

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The Work of Ainsworth
Ainsworth went to live in Uganda to study motherchild reactions. She proposed a link
between the responsiveness of the mother and the reactions of the child. Some children's
attachments were secure and comfortable while others were tense and full of conflict. She
also found that the child used the parent as a safe and secure base from which to explore.…read more

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Ambivalent insecure ­ they stayed close to the mother rather than exploring, and
were very distressed when she left. They went for comfort on return and then
rejected the comforting. Again, about 15% fitted this attachment type.
In 1986 Main and Solomon developed a fourth attachment type: disorganised and
disorientated ­ characterised by the child both approaching and avoiding the mother on her
CrossCultural Work Using the Strange Situation
In Uganda Ainsworth studied 26 families, gathering information about motherchild
relationships.…read more


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