Developmental Psychology

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
The Learning Explanation of attachment
Outline Evaluation
We are all born as a `blank slate' Supported by animal research conducted by Skinner and Thorndike (early 1900s)
Attachments are based on feeding (cupboard love). who both found that animals can be conditioned to behave in specific ways when
Through Classical Conditioning, the baby associates the person who feeds them given food as a reward. This supports the idea of Cupboard Love being man
(usually the mother) with the pleasurable sensation of being fed and relief from reinforcement for attachment.
hunger. Supported by Hodges & Tizard (1984, 1989) who conducted research into
In Operant Conditioning the mother becomes the positive reinforcer for the feeding institutional care and found that children were able to make attachments at later
behaviour. stages in their lives (and not just during the first three years (as suggested by
Attachments may also be learned via observation and imitation (Social learning). Bowlby's evolutionary theory)).
Children can attach at any time as the learning theory believes that there is no Takes into account the role of the environment in attachment. This is very important
sensitive period. as we are raised in a rich, social environment where we are influenced by nurture as
well as nature.
Contradicted by Bowlby's evolutionary explanation of attachment. Harlow (1959)
and Lorenz (1920s) which suggests that comfort is more important than food and
that attachments cannot form at any stage.
Ignores the important influence of nature on our attachments (takes the side of
nurture over nature).
The evolutionary explanation of attachment
Outline Evaluation
John Bowlby believed that attachments are instinctive, innate behaviours which Supported by Harlow (1959) who separated baby monkeys from their mother and
have evolved as a way to ensure survival for the new baby. found that the baby moneys preferred the soft cloth surrogate mother to the wire
Babies possess social emitters which make others want to look after them (looking surrogate mother holding the bottle. This showed that comfort was more important
cute etc.). than food.
One attachment figure is the main one and is the most important (Monotropy). Supported by Lorenz (1920s) who found that baby geese instantly attach to the first
Attachments must be formed in the Sensitive period (Critical) which runs from thing they see in order to help them survive and learn how to behave.
6months to 3 years of age. Attachments can be formed after three years old (e.g. Hodges and Tizard found that
Early attachment provides an Internal Working Model (IWM) for the child, telling children adopted after 4 years, still formed secure attachments to their new adopted
them how loveable they are and how trustworthy other people are. parents.) This contradicts Bowlby's idea of the Sensitive Period.
Attachments formed as a child will affect that child's later adult relationships Very Deterministic as it argues that a lack of attachment during the sensitive period
(Continuity Hypothesis). = poor later life experience. This is not always the case ­ Hodges and Tizard.
Ignores the vital role of Nurture on our attachments and instead focuses solely on

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
Types of Attachment
Outline Evaluate
Mary Ainsworth (1970) conducted the Strange Situation ­ a controlled lab Controlled Lab Observation which minimised other variables, therefore showing a
observation ­ with American children aged between 12-18 months. clear relationship between attachment types and parenting style. This means that
The Observation involved 8 Episodes, each lasting around 3 minutes where a baby the study had High Ecological Validity.…read more

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
Outline Evaluation
Robertson and Robertson (1969) conducted case studies of children who were This research gives us a valuable insight into how children cope when separated and
naturally separated from their mothers for short periods of time in the 1940s and tells us that we should do all we can to reduce the effects of PDD (e.g. by leaving
1950s (e.g.…read more

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
Failure to form attachment (Privation)
Outline Evaluation
Privation occurs when an individual suffers a complete lack of attachment. Privation The research can be used to support Bowlby's Evolutionary Theory and makes it very
can be physical or emotional. clear to Psychology what can happen when children are unable to form attachments.
Curtiss (1977) studied Genie who had suffered from privation for the first 13 years
Research by Rutter (2007) supports Curtiss's findings as he showed that privation
of her life.…read more

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
children adopted after 6 months old had problems developing attachments and Hodges and Tizard conducted a longitudinal study which has allowed us to see the
displayed disinhibited attachments and had poor peer relations. effects of emotional privation over a long period of time. This has given us a
long-term insight into privation as opposed to a brief, time-limited one.…read more

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Lara Al-Wakeel Psychology Revision Developmental
development than children who were looked after social desirability when asked to report on their
in family settings. children. As a result, we need to take day care
studies with a `pinch of salt' in terms of their
reliability and validity.
Day care research has been very useful in informing
us on how our day care centres should be run in
order to maximise the positive and minimise the
negative effects on children.…read more


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