Developmental Psychology

Notes for Developmental Psychology from AQA A AS Level

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  • Created on: 22-06-12 14:49
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Developmental Psychology
An attachment is an emotional bond between two people. It is a two-way process that endures over time.
It leads to certain behaviours such as clinging and proximity-seeking, and serves the function of protecting
an infant.
Learning Theory
Dollard & Miller (1949)
Attachment is a set of learned behaviors (i.e. results from experience, not innate processes)
1. Classical conditioning (association) ­ the person who feeds the infant is associated with
food which produces pleasure. This is the attachment bond.
2. Operant conditioning (consequences) ­ reinforcement through rewards that bring
pleasure. Infant learns smiling/crying brings positive reinforcement from adults. Adults
learn that responding the infant brings relief from cries.
Main predictions:
1. The child will form attachments on the basis of primary care provision (feeding etc.)
2. Attachment behavior should increase steadily from birth
3. The strongest attachments will be with those who provide the most primary care
Validity: theory is based on studies with non-human animals.
Strengths: provides an adequate explanation of how attachments form as we do learn through
association and reinforcement.
Weaknesses: the role of food as the reason of why attachments form.
Harry Harlow in his study `the origins of love' (1959) contradicts that and he showed that contact
comfort rather than food was more important in the development of attachments.
Evolutionary theory
Bowlby (1953)
Attachment is innate, part of evolution
Infants emit social releasers which stimulate care giving from adults
Infants attach with whomever responds to the stimuli
1. Attachment is adaptive and innate ­ short and long-term benefits for the infant.
2. Sensitive period ­second quarter of the first year in an infant's life.
3. Care giving is adaptive ­ adults are programmed to respond to social releasers.
4. A secure base- infant feels protected and confident to explore the world.
5. Monotropy and hierarchy of attachments ­ infant forms the main attachment with primary
care giver, all other attachments are secondary and form a pyramid.
6. Internal working model- the infant's expectations about attachments.
7. The continuity hypothesis ­ link between early attachment relationship and later emotional
Main hypothesis
1. Attachments form with those who give the infant attention
2. Attachment correlates with other aspects of development
3. There will be a special attachment figure
4. Disruption of attachment will have consequences.

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Evaluation ­ Strengths
Lorenz showed imprinting is innate in animas so same could apply to human babies
Hodges and Tizard support the sensitive period.…read more

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Van Ijzendoorn (1999) conducted a meta analysis of 80 studies and found there are actually 4
attachment types:
1. Secure attachment ­ 60%
2. Insecure avoidant ­ 15%
3. Insecure resistant ­ 10%
4. Insecure disorganised ­ 15%
Main & Weston claimed attachments test the nature of a particular relationship rather than the
type of a child's attachment type.…read more

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Factors influencing attachment type
Sensitivity: Ainsworth developed the maternal sensitivity scale to rate mothers' behaviour
towards their infants and found:
1. Mothers of securely attached infants were more sensitive, accepting, cooperative &
2. Mothers of insecurely attached infants were more unresponsive to crying & less
3. Mothers of avoidant infants were more rejecting & paid less attention to the infant when
entering the room.
4. Mothers of resistant infants tended to be occupied with routine activities when holding
the infant.…read more

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They found small inter-cultural differences (secure attachment most common). Then insecure
avoidant (apart from in Japan and Israel). Found 1.5 times greater intra-cultural differences than
inter-cultural differences.
1. The most common type is the secure type. This means it is the `best' for the healthy social
and emotional development.
2. Also, its universality shows it is an innate and biological process.
Culture bias: Rothbaum et al.…read more

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Bifulco showed that negative effects of deprivation may only surface if there are `triggers' later
on in life. (study with 249 women- lost mothers before 17-twice as much rates of depression and
anxiety disorders).
Robertson's Case Studies
Robertson studied Little John who was looked after in a residential nursery for 9 days while his
mother was in hospital. He went from a happy, well-adjusted child to a distressed, withdrawn child.
When his mother returned to collect him he rejected her.…read more

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Turner and Lloyd (1995) claim that damage only occurs when there are multiple risk factors such as
privation and subsequent bad care, or insecure attachment and early separations and parental
With regards to the studies we cannot say if the children studied had failed to form attachments.
Also, we do not know to what extend the effects of privation extend into adult life.
It could mean that ex-institutional children need more time to adjust to social situations.…read more

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NICHD data showed mother's sensitivity was more important than hours in childcare in problem
Belsky claims other factors at home are more important than hours spent in day care for problem
Dingfelder claim the findings are causal (day-care and aggression are linked but we don't know
how, as we don't know the processes by which aggression is increased. i.e. lack of supervision in
day-care could allow more aggressive behaviours.…read more

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Low child-to-staff ratios (3:1)
3. Minimal staff turnover
4. Sensitive emotional care
5. Qualified staff
Availability of high-quality day care is monitored in the UK. It has to meet legal standards:
1. Minimum staffing rations in relation to age of children
2. Minimum levels of qualification
3. Ofsted inspections
4. Sure Start government initiative
5. NESS project (national evaluation of sure start, Melhuish: findings suggest that high-quality
day care produces greater benefits for children from moderately disadvantaged families
than severely disadvantaged ones.…read more


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