Care-giver infant interactions.

  • Reciprocity: taking turns as in a conversation (Jaffe et al.)
  • Brazelton: mother anticipates infant signals, basis of attachment
  • Interactional synchony: coordinated behaviour
  • Meltzoff and Moore: 3-day-old babies imitate mothers
  • Piaget: behaviour is pseudo-imitation (operant conditioning)
  • Murray and Trevarthen: infant distress if no response, supports innateness.


  • Testing infant behaviour is difficult as they are in constant motion.
  • Failure to replicate Meltzoff and Moore, e.g, Marian at el. (lived V taped reactions)
  • Intentionality supported- no response to inanimate object (Anravanel and DeYong)
  • Individual differences- security of attachment associated with interactional synchrony
  • 'Like me' hypothesis (Meltzoff)- interactional synchrony leads to theory of mind.
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The development of attachment.

  • Schaffer and Emerson studied 60 glasgow babies and mothers
    • Stage 1: indicriminate attachments
    • Stage 2: beginnings of attachment
    • Stage 3: specific attachment
    • Stage 4: multiple attachments
  • The role of the father- changing social practices: increased exposure might lead to primary attachments.
  • Biological factors- women have hormones which encourage caringness
  • Nevertheless, men are primary attachment figures or share this role (Frank et al.)
  • Secondary attachment- fathers more playful (Geiger); problem-solving (White and Woollett)


  • Unreliable data- mothers of less securely attached infants would be less sensitive and possibly less accurate in their reports, a system bias
  • Biased sample- working-class population from 1960s, results may not generalise
  • Multiple attachments- Rutter argued that all relationships equivalent
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Animal studies: Lorenz.

  • Lorenz:
    • Procedure- goose eggs incubated so first living thing they saw was their natural mother or Lorenz.
    • Findings- goslings imprinted on Lorenz and followed him
    • Critical period- imprinting doesn't happen later
    • Long lasting effects- irreversible and related to mate choice (sexual imprinting)


  • Research support- Guiton et al.
  • Imprinting issues- may not be irreversible and may be little more than just learning.
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Animal studies: Harlow.

  • Harlow:
    • Procedue- wire 'mothers', one cloth covered. Feeding bottle attached to one or other
    • Findings- monkeys spent most time with cloth-covered 'mother', whether or not feeding bottle attached
    • Critial period- attachments must be formed before six months
    • Long-lasting effects- all motherless monkeys were abnormal socially and sexually


  • Confounding variable- wire mother faces different, varied systematically with independent variable
  • Generalising to humans may not be justified but findings confirmed, e.g, Schaffer and Emerson
  • Ethics- benefits may outweigh costs, but does not challenge findings
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Explanations of attachment: Learning theory.

  • Learning theory (behaviourism)- all behaviours are learned rather than inherited
  • Classical conditioning- new conditioned response learned through association between a neutral stimulus (mother) and an unconditioned stimulus (food)
  • Operant conditioning- the reduction of discomfort created by hunger is rewarding so food becomes a primary reinforcer, associated with mother who becomes secondary reinforcer
  • Social learning- children model parents' attachment behaviours (Hay and Vespo)


  • Animal studies- lack external validity because simplified view of human attachment
  • Attachment is not based on food- Harlow showed it was comfort; supported by Schaffer and Emerson
  • Learning theory can explain some aspects of attachment- attention and responsiveness are rewards
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Explanations of attachment: Bowlby's monotropic th

  • Bowlby's attachment theory (1969): critical period- attachments form around 3-6 months, afterwards this becomes increaingly difficult
  • Primary attachment figure- determined by caregiver sensitivity (Ainsworth)
  • Social releasers elicit caregiving and ensure attachment from parent to infant
  • Monotropy- primary attachment has special emotional role, secondary attachments provide safety net
  • Inernal working model- acts as template for future relationships, creating continuity (continuity hypothesis)


  • Attachment is adaptive
  • A sensitive period rather than a critical one (Rutter et al.)
  • Multiple attachments- Bowlby's views are not contradictory because secondary attachments contribute to one single internal working model
  • Continuity hypothesis (Sroufe et al.)
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Ainsworths strange situation: types of attachement

  • Ainsworth et al.- a systematic test of attachment to one caregiver, situation of mild stress and novelty
    • Procedure- observations every 15 seconds of behaviour, e.g. contact-seeking or contact-avoidance
    • Behaviour assessed- separation anxiety, reunion behaviour, stranger anxiety, secure base.
    • Findings- types of attachment: secure (65% type B), insecure-avoidant (22% type A), insecure-resistant (12% type C)


  • Other types of attachment- disorganised (type D)
  • High reliabilty- inter-observer reliability >.94
  • Real-world application- circle of security project
  • Low internal validity
  • Maternal reflexive functioning (Raval et al.)
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Cultural variations in attachment.

  • Key study: Van Ijzendoorn and Keoonenberg- meta-analysis of 32 studies using the Strange Situation, from 8 countries
    • Findings- secure attachment was the norm in all countries, greater variation within countries than between them
  • Cultural similarities- Efe infants (Tronick et al.)
  • Cultural differences- more insecure attachment in German sample (Grossman and Grossman)
  • Cultual differences- no avoidant attachment in Japan sample (Takahashi)


  • Similarites may be due to global culture (Van Ijzendoorn and Kronenberg)
  • Within countries there are cultural differences, e.g. rulal versus urban Japanese (Van Ijzendoorn and Sagi)
  • Cross-cultural research- uses tools developed in one country in a different setting where it has a different meaning (imposed etic.)
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Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation.

  • Value of meternal care- children need a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with a mother or mother-substitute
  • Critical period- frequent and/or prolonged separations from a mother will have negative effects if they occur before the age of 2½ (critical period) if there is no mother-substitute
  • Long-term consequences- include emotional maladjustmnet or mental disorder such as depression
  • Key study: 44 juvenile thieves
    • Findings- 86% of affectionless thieves has frquent separations before 2 compared with 17% of other thieves and just 2% of the control group


  • Emotional rather than physical separation is harmful (Radke-Yarrow)
  • Support for long-term effects (Bifulco et al.)
  • Real world application- films of Laura brought about social change (Bowlby and Robertson)
  • Individual differences- some children more resilient, e.g. securely attached children in TB hospital (Bowlby et al.)
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Romanian orphan studies: effects of institutionali

  • Key study: Rutter et al (ERA)- 165 Romanian orphans, physical, cognitive and social development tested at regular intervals
    • Findings- at age 11 those children adopted before 6 months good recovery, older adoptions associated with disinhibited attachment
  • Canadian study (Le Mare and Audet)- Romanian orphans physically smaller at adoption but recovered by age 10½
  • Romanian study (Zeanah et al.)- institutionalised Romanian orphans compared to control group more likely to display disinhibited attachment
  • Effects of institutionalisation- physical underdevelopment (deprivation dwarfism, Gardner), intellectual underfunctioning (Skodak and Skeels), disinhibited attachment, poor parenting (Quinton et al)


  • Individual differences- some children appear to recover despite no apparent attachments within sensitive period
  • Real-life application- adoption should be as early as possible and then infants securely attached.
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The influence of early attachment.

  • Internal working model- model of self and attachment partner based on their joint attachment history which generates expectations about current and future relationships
  • Key study: Hazan and Shaver- placed 'Love Quiz' in newspaper and analysed 620 responses
    • Findings- positive relationship between attachment type (childhood and current one) and love experiences/attitudes (internal working model)
  • Behaviours influenced by internal working model- childhood friendhsips (Minnesota child- parent study), poor parenting (Quinton et al.), romantic relationships (Hazan and Shaver) and mental health (attachment disorder)


  • Correlation research- internal working model may not cause later relationship experiences, temperment may be intervening variable
  • Retrospective classification- childhood attachment type based on memory of childhood which may be inaccurate, though support from longitudinal study (Simpson et al)
  • Overly determinist- past achievement experiences don't always determine the course of future relationships
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