AQA A Psychology 2

Revision cards for Chapter 2

HideShow resource information

Explanations of attachment

Attachment is an emotional bond between 2 people. Its a 2 way porcess that endures over time. Leads to certain behaviours eg clinging. Serves the function of protecting an infant.


1 of 47

Explanations of attachment


Learning theory proposes that behaviour is learned rather than inborn. When child born they are blank slates and everything they become can be explained by by their experiences.

Behaviour is learned through classical or operant conditioning.

2 of 47

Explanations of attachment


Involves learning through association.

Ivan Pavlov first described this type of learning. Conducting research on salivation reflex of dogs. He noticed they started salivating before they were fed. They started when they heard door open indicating food was coming. They had associated the sound of the door with food. They had learned a new stimulus response. They learned to salivate (response) when door opened (stimulus)

Same principles can be used to explain attachment. Food produces sense of pleasure. Person who feeds infant becomes associated with food. Feeder eventually produces pleasure associated with food. Pleasure becomes a conditioned response.

Association between individual and sense of pleasure is the attachment bond.

3 of 47

Explanations of attachment


2nd explanation used is operant conditioning. Learning also occurs when we are rewarded for doing something. Each time you do something which results in pleasent consequence the behaviour is reinforced. More likely you will repeat behaviour in future. 

If you do something that results in unpleasent consequence it becomes less likely you will repeat it. These 2 outcomes are called reinenforcement and punishment.

Dollard and Millard offered explanation of attachment based on operant conditioning. Suggested hungry infant feels uncomfortable and this createss drive to reduce this. When fed, drive is reduced and produces feeling of pleasure (which is rewarding). Food becomes primary reinforcer because it reinforces behaviour to avoid discomfort. Person who gives food is associated with avoiding discomfort and becomes secondary reinforcer. Attachment occurs because child seeks person who can supply reward.

4 of 47

Strengths of Learning Theory

  • It provides adequate explanation of how attachments form. We do learn through association and reinforcement. However, food may not be main reinforcer. It may be that attention and responsiveness from caregiver are important rewards that create the bond (these kind of reinforces are not part of the Learning Theory)
5 of 47

Weaknesses of Learning Theory

  • Main weakness is the role of food in attachment. People think that feeding child plays big part in forming attachment but there is strong evidence to show feeding has nothing to do with attachment. Show in study of Harlow;
  • Harlow had been researching on monkeys when he noticed young monkeys got distressed when their cages got cleaned. Cages had sanitary pads lining bottom and it seemed they had becomend attached to this like a security blanket. Led him to investigate hypothesis that contact comfort rather than food was more important in development of attachment.
  • He made 2 wire mothers. 1 produced milk and other was soft but gave no food. According to Learning Theory monkey should become attached to the monkey that gave milk. However, monkey spent most of time with cloth covered mum and would cling to it (characteristic of attachment) 
  • Study is with animals so may not apply to humans, it is supported by other study by Schaffer and Emerson: they observed 60 babies from working class families for about a year. Found that most were not most attached to the 1 that fed them. Most attached to 1 who was most responsive to them.
6 of 47

Evolutionary perspective- Bowlby's attachment theo

Bowlby's thoery of attachment is made up of several areas: 1.ATTACHMENT IS ADAPTIVE AND INNATE

  • Attachment is a behavioural system that has evolved because of its survival value and reproductive value for later in life. He said children have innate drive to become attached to caregiver as it has long term benefits. 
  • Attachment ensures child stays close to caregiver who will feed and protect. 


  • Since attachment is innate, needs to be limited window time for its development i.e sensitive period. Development takes place most rapidly at critical period but can still take place at sensitive period.
  • He suggested that 2nd quater of first year is when child is most sensitive to developments of attachment. As months pass it becomes more difficult to for attachment.
7 of 47

Evolutionary perspective- Bowlby's attachment theo


  • Drive to provide care giving is also innate because it's adaptive. 
  • Infants born with social releasers which elicit care giving eg big eyes
  • Attachment is innate behavioural system in babies. Care giving is innate response in adults. Both provide protection thus enhance survival.


  • Attachment is important for protection. It acts as secure base for which child can explore world a have a safe place to return to. The attachment promotes independence.
8 of 47

Evolutionary perspective- Bowlby's attachment theo


  • He said infants form number of attachments but 1 of them has special importance. 
  • Bias towards that individual (primary attachment) is called monotropy.
  • Infants also have other secondary attachments that form a hierarchy of attachments.
  • Special attachment is usually mother.
  • He thought that an infant becomes most strongly attached to the person who responds most sensitively to their social releasers. This person becomes primary attachment figure.
  • Primary attachment figure gives main foundation for emotional development, self esteem and later relationships.
  • Secondary attachments also contribute to social development. Children brought up with no secondary attachment figures appear to lack social skills.
9 of 47

Evolutionary perspective- Bowlby's attachment theo


  • Relationship between caregiver and child may be 1 of trust or uncertainty. This creates expectations of what all relationships will be like.
  • Gradually, infant makes model about emotional relationships. Called the internal working model.
  • The model is cluster of concepts about relationships and what to expect from others.


  • Internal working model means there is consistency between early emotional experiences and later ones.
  • This leads to continuity hypothesis- the view that there is link between early attachment relationship and later emotional behaviour.
  • Those who are securely attached will continue to be socially and emotionally competent. Whereas insecurely attached child will have more difficulties.
10 of 47

Evaluating Bowlby's theory of attachment


1. Imprinting in non humans- Research by Lorenz (goslings) supports veiw that imprinting is innate. A similar process is likely to have evolved in many species to protect young and enhance survival.

2. Sensitive period- Conclusion from research appears to be that once sensitive period has passed its difficult to form attachments. Hodges and Tizard found that children who did not form attachment had later difficulties with peers.

3. Universality- If attachment did evolve to provide important biological functions, then we would expect attachment and caregiving behaviours to be universal. Tronick studied an African tribe- they have different child rearing practices to us but they still showed they had a primary attachment. Supports view attachment and care giving is universal.


11 of 47

Evaluating Bowlby's theory of attachment

4. Monotropy and hierarchy- Bowlby suggested child formed many attachments but had one main 1. Evidence to support by Tronick (african tribe several mothers looked after all children). Study by Schaffer and Emerson (showed that quality of care giving is more important than quantity which is opposite of what Learning Thoery says)

5. Caregiver sensitivity- Schaffer and Emerson saw that strongly attached infants had mums that responded quickly to childs demands and who gave their child most interaction. Weakly attached children had parents who did not interact with them.

Supported by Harlow's study- monkey formed 1 way attachment with wire monkey. Later in life had difficulties in relationships and were poor parents.

6. Continuity hypothesis- Minnesota longitudinal study followed participants from infancy to late adolescence  and found continuity between early attachment and later emotional/social behaviour.

12 of 47

Evaluating Bowlby's theory of attachment


1. Multiple attachments- Many psychologyists think that all attacgment figures are equally important. However, this may not be far off what Bowlby intended as he does say that secondary attachments do contribute to social development ie relationships with siblings are important to learn how to negotiate with peers.

2. Alternative explanation- Main part of Bowlby's thoery is the continuity hypothesis. However, continutiy between early experiences and later emotional behaviour can be explained without Bowlby's theory. 

The temperament hypothesis (Kagan) says certain personality characteristics of infant shape responsiveness of others. There is evidence to support the idea that children are born with innate temperamental differences. Thomas and Chess identified 3 basic infant personalities. Easy. Difficult and Slow to Warm Up.

13 of 47

Types of attachment


Ainsworth did a 2 year study in Uganda. She found that out the the 26 mothers and their children some ere more sensitive to infants needs. These mothers tended to have securely attached children who cried little and happy to explore in presence of mother. Learning Theroy could not explain importance of sensitivity but Bowlby's could.


Ainsworth made "strange situation" to test nature of attachment. Aim was to see behave under mild stress created by situation. In this case presence of stranger and separation of caregiver. Tests stranger anxiety and separation anxiety. During it, observers record what infant is doing every 15 seconds. They note down what behaviours are being displayed eg contact seeking etc


14 of 47

Types of attachment


She found 3 main types of children:

1. Secure attachment- harmoniuous and cooperative interactions with caregiver. Not likely to cry if caregiver leaves room. Seek close contact when anxious and easily soothed. Seek and comfortable with social interaction. Infant uses caregiver as secure base.

2. Insecure avoidant- avoid social interaction and intimacy. In strange situation, show little response to seperation  and dont seek proximity of caregiver on reunion. If picked up show little or no tendency to cling or resist being out down. Happy to explore without caregiver. Have high levels of anxiousness. May become angry if attachment needs not met.

3. Insecure resistant- both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction. Respond to separation with immediate and intense distress. On reunion, display conflicting desires for and against contact.

15 of 47

Types of attachment

After re analysis of strange situation, Main and Solomon added 4th attachment type:

4. Insecure disorganised- lack of consistent patterns of social behaviour. Lack coherent strategy for dealing with stress of separation. 

16 of 47

Effects of attachment type

Importance of Ainsworth strange situation tchnique is that it gives a way to study attachment.


Bowlbys theory predicited there would be continuity between early attachment and later social/emotional behaviour.


Lonitdudinal studies have shown link between early attachment and later behaviour. Prior and Glaser gave this summary:

  • Secure attachment associated with positiive outcome eg less emotional dependence and higher achievement.
  • Avoidant attachment- related to later aggressiveness.
  • Resistant attachment- related aniexty and withdrawn behaviour
  • Disorganised- related to hostile and aggressive behaviour
17 of 47

Effects of attachment type


Accorindg to Bolwby, later relationships are continuation of attachment type because mother behaviour creates internal working model. This gives child expectations on what all relationships will be like.

Hazan and Shaver investegated this hypothesis by using "Love Quiz" in newspaper. It asked questions about early experiences, current love experiences and attitudes towards love.  They found there were characteristic patterns of later romantic behaviour related to early attachment types. Supports Bowlby's theory.

18 of 47

Factors influencing attachment type

Sensitivity- Ainsworth made Maternal Sensitivity Scale to rate Mums behaviours eg sensitivty to infants, acceptance or rejection, coperation etc. Using this scale she found key group differences in maternal scores in strnage situation:

Mothers of securley attached child more sensitive, coperative and accessible.

Mothers of insecurely attached child more unresponsive to crying and less affectionate.

Mothers of avoidant child more rejecting, paid less attention to child when entering room.

Mothers of resistant chilnd tended to be occupied with routine activites when holding child.

19 of 47

Factors influencing attachment type


Some studies show low correlations between maternal sensitivity and strength of attachment.

Slade et al found a greater role for maternal reflective functioning- ability to understand what someone else is thinking and feeling.

They suggest maternal reflective thinking rather than sensitivity may be central in attachment.


Tempermant hypothesis as said by Kagan. Certain personality characteristics on infant may shape mothers responsivesness and therefore attachment type.

20 of 47

Evaluating attachment types


Concerns extent tot which we are measuring what we intended to measure.

Strange situation aims to measure attachment types in child. Does it measure this or the quality of relationship?

Main and Weston found that children behaved differently depending on which parent was with them. Suggests classification of an attachment type may not be valid because what we are meausring is 1 relationship rather than something lodged in individual.

Others think this doesnt matter as ultimatley only 1 relationship determines attachment type.

21 of 47

Evaluating attachment types


A measurement is reliable if it is consisitent. Eg if 2 or more people observe child their observations should be the same.

Reliablity of "Strange Situation" been tested using interrater reliability- comparing ratinfs made by panel of judges.

Ainsworth found almost perfect agreement when rating exploratory behavoiur about .94


Intention of "Strange Situation" is to cause mild distress. Is it ok to do this?

Ainsworth said that it would not cause anything more disturbing than ordinary life. But 20% of children reportedly cried "desperatley"

22 of 47

Cultural variations in attachment

Bowlby's theory says that attacment evolved to provide biological function of protection. If attachment is biological and innate process, secure attachment should be optimal attachment type regardsless of cultural variations

If such attachments are found in some cultures but not others, suggests that attachment is not innate but related to different child rearing methods.

Western cultures eg our's and America are classed as individualist cultures that value indepence.

Other cultures are collectivisit emphasising importance of the group. They are catergotised by extent to which things are shared. They aspire to be dependant on each other eg Japan and Israel.

23 of 47

Studies of cultural variations

Some support Bowlby and others dont.


Tronick et al- studied african tribe who live in large family groups. Infants looked after by different women but normally slept with own mum at night. Despite big differences in childrearing, at  6 months still showed 1 primary attachment.


Grossmann and Grossmann found that Gemrna children tended to be insecurley rather than securely attached. May be due to different child rearing practicies. German culture involves keeping interpersonal distance between parent and child, so infants does not display proximity seeking behaviours in strange sitution.

CONCLUSIONS- sutdies suggest that differences in attachments can be related to cultural attitudes.

24 of 47

Studies of cultural variations


Secure attachment is most common across all cultures is secure attachment. Supports idea that secure attachment is best for social and emotional development.

The cross culture similarities support view attachment is innate and biological process.

25 of 47

Evaluating cultural variations in attachment

Previous cards looked at cultural varitations in attachment.

Conclusion suggested by many studies that a bond develops with 1 primary attachment figure despite these variations.

Also appears secure attachment is the norm all over world.

However, these conclusions may not be justified if we find that the research itself was flawed.

On next sets of revision cards, will look at criticsms of the studies on cultural variation.

26 of 47

Criticisms of research on cultural variations in a


Rothbaum et al- argued attachment theory and research not relevant to other cultures as its so rooted in American culture.

1.Sensitivity hypothesis- Bolwby/Ainsworth said secure attachment was related to sensitivity and responsiveness of caregiver. Rothbaum argued this reflects Western ideas. In Japan sensitivity is about promoting dependence rather than independence. Sensitivity has opposite objectives in 2 cultures.

2.Continuity hypothesis- Bowlby/Ainsworth said infants who more securely attached will be more socailly/emotionally competent. However this competance is defined in terms of being able to explore, independence and and regulate emotions. However, in Japan opposite is true. Competence represented by not showing your feelings and being group orientated.

27 of 47

Criticisms of research on cultural variations in a

3. Secure base hypothesis- In West, secure attachments seen as providing child with secure base to explore to promote independence. In Japan they promote dependence.

Rothbaum et al suggested psychologists should produce set of theories rooted in individual cultures. There may be small set of universal principles, like need for protection, but in general childcare practices will be related to cultural values.

However Posada and Jacobs point out that its not wether sensitivity leads to indepence but simply that sensitivity is linked to secure attachment.

28 of 47

Criticisms of research on cultural variations in a


Rothbaum talked about behaviour of Japanese mothers and infants. This may be unjustified generalisation as within country itself there are different subcultures.

Tokyo- urban setting. Found similar distributions of attachment types to Western.

More rural area- found over representation of insecure resistant.


Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg suggested cross cultural similarities may be because effect of media eg TV which spread ideas about parenting throughout world. Suggests cultural similarities may not be due to innate biological differences but because of increasing global culture.

29 of 47

Criticisms of research on cultural variations in a


Particular issue for cross cultural research is the "tools" that are used. Psychologists measure behavouir using things like IQ tests. Such tools are related to cultural assumptions of the test.

eg In strange situation test its assumed that willingness to explore is sign of secure attachment. However, some cultures this is not the case as they promote dependence. Dependence would be sign of secure atatchment.

30 of 47

Disruption of attachment

Bolwby theory says that attachment is essential for healthy social/emotional development.

Therefore disruption of attachment may have negative effect on these 2 things.

Disruption may occur whe child seperated from their attachment figure.

Ainsworths strange situation showed that physical seperation is distressing.

Some types of physical seperation are unavoidable eg time in hospital, day care etc.

31 of 47

The effects of physical seperation

Studied children who had been seperated from family for prolonged time. Found that children were often disturbed and lagged behind inintellectual development.

Wolf observed that 100 normal children placed in institution became depressed within few months.


Robertson used camera to record observations of daily life in hopsital and focused on little girl Laura who was there for 8 day stay. FIlm shows her alternating between calm and distress. Shes visited ocasionally by parents and begs to go home. As time goes on tries to cope with dissapointment she has to stay.

32 of 47

The effects of physical seperation


Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate were all under 3 and placed into foster care for few weeks while mums were in hospital. Robertsons looking after them gave high level of emotional care and kept routines similar to those at home. Father regulary visited. All children seemed to adjust well. They showed signs of distress eg refused to cuddle but in general slept well and did not reject mum on reunion. Some reluctant to part with foster mum.

John's experinces were different. John placed in nursery for 9 days while mum was having a baby. Father regulary visited. During first 2 days film shows John behaving normally . Gradually changes as he makes determined afforts to get attention. When this fails he seeks comfort in giant teddy but this is not enough. He gradually breaks down, refuses food and drink, stops playing, cries and gives up trying to get attention. In first week, greets father enthusiastically buy by second week he just sits quietly. For long periods  of day he lies with thumb in mouth, cuddling bear. When mother comes to take him home, he screams and struggles. For many months after he continued outburts of anger towards mum.

33 of 47

Validity of the studies of the children

2 points to make about validity of this research:

1. Can be argued that research has high validity. Films were naturalstic observations (set in real life) Robertson was meticulous in way he designed observation record in order to avoid bias. Also record is available for others to inspect.

2.Could argue opposite. Conclusions of study based on case studies made of only few children. They may share certain characteristics that differntiate them from other children and thefore cannot generalise.

34 of 47

Physical versus emotional disruption

Skeels and Dye- some of children who showed IQ defcits were transferred to home for mentally retarded adults. When tested again, IQ had increased. Possible that the adults liked having kids to look after and provided the missing emotional care. To test this Skodak and Skeels sent infants to home for mentally retarded while control group remained in orphanage. IQ retested after 1 and half years found that IQ of orphanage dropped while the home had risen. Shows that emotional ill effects can be reversed.

Bohman and Sigvardsson- studied over 600 adopted children. Age 11 26% were classified as problem children. Follow up study 10 years later none of children were any worse off than rest of population. Shows early negative effects can be reversed.

Conclusion that disruption of attachment can have negative effects but can be avoided or reversed when alternative emotional care is given.

For some children this does not happen so disruption of attachment leads to permanent difficulties.

35 of 47

Failure to form attachment

Privation is the failure to form any attachments. 

Case study of Genie:

She was locked in room by dad until she was 13 and a half. When she was ofund she couldnt speak or stand erect. She never fully recovered socially. Showed disinterest in other people. Lack of recovery may be due to her extreme early emotional privation. Or due to late age she was found (well past sensitive age for attachment) which would mean recovery not possible.


Mother sued psychologists for their excessive and outrageous testing.

No true consent.

No confidentiality.


36 of 47

Institutional care

Kids in institution likely to experienec privation.


Rutter et al- studied 100 romanian orphans and assesed them at 4, 6 and 11 years old. Those children who had been adopted by British families before age of 6 months have shown normal emotional development. However, many of those Romanian orphans adopted after 6 months age showed disinhibited attachments and had problems with peers. Suggests long term consequences may be less severe than once thought if child has opportunity to form attachments.

37 of 47

Effects of privation and instutionalisation


Recognised mental/medical disorder.

Children with attachment disorder have:

  • No preferred attachment figure
  • Inability to interact and relate to others
  • Experience severe neglect or frequent caregiver changes.

2 types of attachment disorder:

  • Reactive or inhibited- shy and withdrawn, unable to cope with social situations
  • disinhibited attachment- over friendly and attention seeking.
38 of 47

Effects of privation and instutionalisation


Quinton et al compared 50 women that had been raised in childrens homes and a control group of 50 women that were raised at home. When women were in their 20s the ex-institutional women showed difficulties acting as parents eg more of ex-institutional women had kids that spent time in care.

Supported by Harlow study where monkeys raised with surrogate mother went on to become poor parents.


Children in institutional care are usually physically smaller- 1 suggestion is lack of emotional care rather than poor nourishment.

Study by Gardner- girl had to be fed through tube. Her mother had fear of dislodging it so she never cuddled or picked girl up. At 8 months child was withdrawn and physically stunted. Admitted to hospital where she thrived on the attention and soon returned to normal. Emotional disturbance may hormone produ.

39 of 47

Evaluation of effects of privation and instutional

EVALUATION OF POOR PARENTING P- Being raised in care home suggests you will be poor parent later in life. E- Study of Quinton and Harlow. 50 ex-institutional women had problems acting as parents. Also monkeys raised by surrogate later went on to be poor parents. E- Institutions can have negative effect. However, this may not be true for everyone as everyone is unique. Also, effects of privation can be reversed if done early enough if they receive emotional care.

40 of 47

Negative research on the impact of daycare


Violata and Russell did meta analysis of 88 studies concluding that regular day care for more than 20 hours per week had negative effect on social and emotional development, behaviour and attachment of young children.


NICHD started longitudinal study to study many aspects of child development. Over 1000 children from diverse families involved. Children and parents assessed at regular intervals in order to establish effects of day care. At age 5 date showed that the more time spent in day care the more adults rated them as aggressive, disobedient and assertive. Children in full time day care 3 times more likely to show behaviour problems than those cared for by mother at home.


41 of 47

Negative research on the impact of daycare


Evidence to suggest that children in day care less likely to be securely attached. eg Belsky and Rovine -using strange situation to assess attachment of children who had been getting 20 hours or more of day care per week. They were more likely to be insecurely attached compared to children at home.


42 of 47

Positive effects on social development

Good day care can give social stimulation, whereas kids at home have little contact with other children.

Alison Clarke Stewart- studied 150 kids and found that those in day care were more advanced in social development that kinds at home. These advances were in social development, independence and obedience etc.


Day care exposes kids to their peers and gives them time to develop social strategies eg ability to negotiate and make friends.

Field- found that amount of time spent in full time day care positively correlated to number of friends children had once they went to primary school.

Clarke- found those who went day care could negotiate better.

43 of 47

Weaknesses of research on day care


The American Psycholgogical Association suggests results of NICHD are meaniingless as there may be other causes to the increased aggression eg inadequetly supervised.


Issue with correlation versus cause. Cannot assume that day care causes later socialability, we have merely found a link. May be that that shy and unsocialable child also had shy and unsocialable mum (tempermant is inhereted) and such mums prefer to stay at home with children. So maybe that outgoing children who attend daycare.

44 of 47

Mediating factors

A mediating factor is something that forms a connecting link between 2 things. eg Effects of day care and social development.


Leaving child at day care may leave them with no emotional care as they are seperated from primary attachment figure. However if suitable replacement is given there should be no ill effects (Robertson)

In day care where there is poor staff to child ratio and high turnoever rate, children will be looked after by series of strangers who cannot act as secondary attachment figures. Parents have greater interest in childs well being as opposed to child minders so even if they proivde good care its likely to child minder is more interested in peace and quite than the childs well being. Study of Bryant- found some children in childminding setting were actually disturbed. Suggesrs childminders dont feel they have to form emotional bonds with the kid.

45 of 47

Implications of research into attachment and day c


Attachment research has been applied to situations where children experience physical seperation from primary attachment figure.

Research by Robertsons showed negative effects of emoitional disruption could be avoided if substitue emotional care was given. Research led to major changes in visiting arrangements for parents with children in hospital.

46 of 47

Implications of research into attachment and day c


Low child to staf ratio- NICHD study found day care staff could give sensitive care if ratios were low as 3:1

Minimal staff turnover- Schaffer found that consistency of care was 1 of the most important factors in good outcomes.

Sensitive emotional care- NICHD found that 23% of infant care providers gave highly sensitive care, 50% gave moderately sensitive care and 20% are emotionally detached from infant under their care.

Qualified staff

47 of 47


Tanya Parwany


this is so useful thanks

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »