Psychology Revision Karen - Attachment

Notes on attachment for AS level Psychology

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  • Created on: 25-03-08 16:29
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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Psychology Karen Revision Attachment
Definition of Attachment
A close emotional bond between 2 people characterised by mutual affection and a desire to maintain
The Stage Theory (Schaffer and Emerson)
Schaffer and Emerson developed a stage theory of attachment (based on their 2 year study of Glaswegian babies)
The Asocial Stage (0 ­ 6 weeks)
During this stage, emotional behaviour such as crying and smiling is directed at anyone or anything.
Indiscriminate attachment (6 weeks ­ 7 months) ­ During this stage, the infant is generally content when
receiving attention from anyone.
Specific attachment (711 months) ­ The infant in this stage forms a strong attachment to one individual,
but good attachments to others often follow shortly after this.
+ The view that the development of attachment is primarily through a series of stages has received a degree
of approval. Observations seem to support the stage theory. In fact, researchers go as far as suggesting that
most children in all societies go through these stages in much the same way.
+ There is also an acceptance of separation protest and separation anxiety, which has also been found in
several studies. These responses suggest that children have formed schemas for familiar or unfamiliar
Many researchers actually disagree with the concept of the asocial stage. Bowlby, for example, believed that
babies were equipped with a range of social behaviours such as babbling and crying that forms the basis for
them to behave in social ways towards people.
Also, later research also suggested that babies are not as asocial as described. Research indicates how
babies will smile more broadly when they see their caregiver or hear their voice. Evidence also points to the
fact that even at one week old, babies are able to recognise their mothers face.
The idea suggests that development is `fixed' that children automatically go through particular stages at set
ages. Development is more fluid and although children may follow this path of development, the age at which
they do so varies.
Criticisms can be made in regards to the methodology the data was collected from either direct observation
or from methods kept by the mothers these are both prone to inaccuracies.
It does not consider the stages of development from an international and cultural level, and some societies
have different childrearing practices.
Schaffer and Emerson's Study of Glasgow Babies
Schaffer and Emerson wanted to conduct a largescale longitudinal study to find out more about the
development of attachment.
This was a longitudinal study, over a period of 2 years, they followed 60 infants from a mainly working class
area of Glasgow, keeping a detailed record of their observation.
The infants were observed every 4 weeks until they were 1 year old and then again at 18 months.
At the start of the investigation, the youngest participant was 5 weeks and the oldest was 23 weeks old
Attachment was measured in two ways:
1. Separation Protest ­ in seven everyday situations.
The infant was left alone in a room
Left alone with other people
Left in his/her pram outside the house
Left in his/her pram outside the shops
Left in his/her cot at night
Put down after being held by an adult
Passed by while sitting in his/her cot or chair.
2. Stranger anxiety ­ Every visit started with the researcher approaching the infant and noting at what point the
infant started to whimper, thus displaying anxiety.
Separation protest and stranger anxiety are signs that an attachment has formed. Before this stage of
specific attachments infants show neither of these behaviours.

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Half of the children showed their first specific attachment between 25 and 32 weeks (68 months).
Fear of strangers occurred about a month later in all the children.
The intensity of attachment peaked in the first month after attachment behaviour first appeared, as measured
by the strength of separation protest.
However, there were large individual differences. Intensely attached infants had mothers who responded
quickly to their demands (high responsiveness) and who offered the child the most interaction.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Individual Differences in Attachments
Definitions of Attachment Types
A strong and contented attachment of an infant to its caregiver, related to healthy cognitive and emotional
This is the optimal type of attachment. The securely attached individual is able to function independently
because their caregiver acts as a secure base.
The infant is distressed by the caregiver's absence.
However, he or she rapidly returns to a state of contentment after the caregivers return, immediately seeking
contact with the caregiver.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
+ Much research has confirmed the usefulness of the Strange Situation test, and the three types of
attachment identified by Ainsworth et al.
+ Studies that have used the Strange Situation have found that it is reliable (if the same child was tested the
same results would be found).…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
from their mothers.
Secure attachment = 62%
Resistant = 33%
Avoidant = 5%
Anxiety was probably due to the stranger entering, rather than being separated from their mother.
Japanese children ­ Showed similar attachments to Israeli children but probably for different reasons. Under
normal circumstances children are never left alone at 12 months & mothers rarely leave them in the care of
others.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Those who use the Strange Situation assume that behaviour has the same meaning in all cultures, when in
fact social constructions of behaviour differ. For example, in Japan young infants are rarely parted from their
mother, whereas German infants are taught to be independent from a young age.
As a result, the Strange Situation lacks ecological and population validity, which means that the findings and
insights may not be genuine.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Explanations of Attachment
Bowlby's Theory of Attachment
John Bowlby was a child psychoanalyst interested in the relationship between child and their caregiver.
He was influenced by the evolutionary theory & believed that attachment was an innate response, which
evolved and served to promote survival in several ways such as:
Safety ­ Attachment results in the desire to maintain proximity and therefore ensured safety.
Emotional relationships ­ Attachment enables the infant to learn how to form and conduct
healthy relationships.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Freud's Psychosexual Stages
The Oral Stage =
This stage takes place as a child is 0 ­ 1 year old.
At this stage a child is still breastfeeding and being weaned, the focus of point of pleasure is the mouth. As
well getting food, children are also getting comfort and knowledge of the world through their mouths.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
Deprivation and Privation
Deprivation / separation ­ Occurs when a child has formed an attachment but is then separated.
Shortterm separation occurs usually when infants are in day care or an infant or caregiver has a short stay in
Long term
Longterm separation can occur when families split up and one parent is given custody of the child, or when
one or both parents die.…read more

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Psychology Karen Emma Rudd BMA
According to Bowlby, an affectionless psychopath has a lack of emotional development, characterised by lack
of concern for others, lack of guilt, and inability to form meaningful and lasting relationships.
The implications were that this research could be used to inform on issues concerning parenting in
particular, the potential negative consequences of mothers working.
The research was correlational and nonexperimental ­ separation/deprivation cannot be manipulated as
an IV and so cause and effect cannot be inferred.…read more


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