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Notes on Attachments


Attachment: an emotional reciprocal bond between infant and PCG

Attachment Behaviours:

Seeking Proximity
Separation Distress
Joy on Reunion
Orientation to one-another

Development of Attachments

Lorenz Study on geese & imprinting. Split geese eggs. ½ under mother & half in
incubator & saw him on hatching. Geese…

Page 2

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Formation of Attachments

Attachments usually take 7-8 mnths to develop

Schaffer & Emmerson study on 60 working class infants from Glasgow. Visited monthly in 1st year and
at 18mnths. Looked at:

Separation Anxiety
Stranger fear

Approached children to see if show distress, interviewed mothers about
baby's response & rated babies…

Page 3

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Learning Theory ­ rewards

Evolutionary Theory ­ survival

Learning Theory

1st attachment made with PCG who feeds & comforts child. Attached Figure = source of pleasure &
removes discomfort.

Operant Conditioning

Positive Reinforcement = when behaviour is rewarded

Negative Reinforcement = when behaviour has to change to stop unpleasant thing…

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Social Learning involves:

Role modelling; parents show affectionate behaviour & children imitate
Direct Instruction; parents teach children to reciprocate affection (give me a kiss goodbye)
Social Facilitation; parents watch & help children perform attachment behaviour when playing
with siblings/friends


This explanation accounts for importance of parents as role models…

Page 5

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with parents. Tested over 700 pts & found strong relationship between childhood attachment type
and adult attachment type.

Black & Schutte carried out study on Continuity Hypothesis. 205 pts. Completed 3 measures to assess
childhood & adult attachment types.

1. Adult attachment interview ­ measured feelings about past & present…

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Ainsworth used Separation Anxiety & Stranger fear to determine attachment type and recorded if
infant used mother as safe base. She identified 3 types;

Attachment Type Details
Secure (Type B) Used mother as safe base, happy to explore if
70% of sample mother present. Showed distress of she left,

Page 7

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Differences in Attachment (Baby's temperament & Mother's sensitivity)

Ainsworth claimed differences due to mother's sensitivity

Sensitive mothers who respond accurately to babies needs make secure attachment with baby

Insensitive mothers (ignore them/become impatient) make insecure attachments which make baby
feel unsafe/unsure needs will be met

DeWolff & Van Ijzendoorn, meta-analysis…


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