HideShow resource information
  • Created by: saima2105
  • Created on: 18-07-17 15:46

Caregiver-infant interactions

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


  • Testing behaviour is difficult as they are in constant motion
  • Failure to replicate Meltzoff and Moore, (Marian et al. live vs taped interactions)
  • Intentionally supported - no response to inanimate objects (Anravanel and DeYong)
  • Individual differences - security of attachment associated with interactional synchrony (Isabella et al)
  • 'Like me' hypothesis (Meltzoff) - interactional synchrony leads to Theory of Mind
1 of 10

The development of attachment

Shaffer and Emerson, 60 infants and mothers from Glasgow

  • Stage 1: indiscriminate attachments
  • Stage 2: beginnings of attachment 
  • Stage 3: specific attachments 
  • The role of father: changing social practices - increase exposure might lead to primary attachments
  • Biological factors - women have hormones which encourage caring behaviours.
  • Neverless men are primary attachment figures or share this role (Frank et al)
  • Secondary attachment - fathers are more playful (Geiger) ; problem-solvers (White and Woolett)


  • Unreliable data - mothers of less securely attched infants = less sensitive and so less acurate in their reports, systematic bias + social desirability bias
  • Biased sample: working-class population from 1960's, results may not generalise.
  • Multiple attachments - Rutter argued that all attachments are equivalent
2 of 10

Animal Studies


  • Procedure: goose eggs incubated so first living thing they saw was their bio. 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)
  • Eval: Research support - Guiton et al
  • Imprinting issues - may be reversible and more than just learning. 


  • Procedure: wire 'mothers', one cloth covered. Feeding bottle was attached to one of the other
  • FIndings: monkeys spent most time with cloth mother irregardless of whether or not bottle was attached
  • Critical period: attachments must be formed before six months 
  • Long lasting effects - all motherless monkeys were socially and sexually abnormal
  • Eval: confounding variable - mothers faces were different 
  • Generalising to humans may not be justified 
  • Ethics - benefits may outweigh costs, but does not challenge findings 
3 of 10

Learning theory

  • 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 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 - simplified view of human attachment 
  • Attachment not based on food - Harlow showed it was contact comfort - supported by Schaffer and Emerson
  • Learning theory can explain some aspects - attention and responsiveness are rewards.
  • Drive reduction doesn't explain why we engage in discomfort (bungee jumping) - reducing disomfort does not explain secondary reinforcers
4 of 10

Bowlby's Monotropic Theory

  • (1969) : critical period (3-6 months) attachments become harder to form after this.
  • Primary attachment figure - determined by careiver sensitivity. Social releasers elicit caregiving and ensure attachments form
  • Monotropy: primary attachment figure has special emotional role, secondary provide safety net.
  • Internal working model: acts as template for future relationships, creating continuity (continuity hypothesis) 


  • Attachment is adaptive - attachment is vital after 6 months as that is when crawling occurs and so attachments develop then. 
  • A sensitive period rather than critical one (Rutter et al)y
  • Continuity hypothesis (Sroufe et al)
  • Temperament hypothesis: Kagan suggested that innate emotional personality determines attachments. 
5 of 10

Strange Situation

  • Ainsworth et al - a systematic test of attachment to one caregiver, a situation of mild stress
  • Procedure - observations every 15 seconds of behaviours: contact seeking or contact avoidance 
    Behaviours assesed - seperation anxiety, reunion behaviour, stranger anxiety, secure base. 
  • Findings; types of attachment: secure (65%), insecure-avoidant (22%), insecure-resistant (12%)


  • Other types of attachment - disorganised 
  • High reliability - inter-observer reliability >.94
  • Real-world application: Circle of Security Project 
  • Low internal validity 
  • Maternal reflexive functioning: Raval et al - low correlation betweem naternal sensitivity and strength of attachment 
6 of 10

Cultural variations

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


  • Similarities may be due to global culture
  • Within countries there are cultural differences - rural vs urban Japan (Ijzendoorn and Sagi)
  • Cross-cultural research: uses tools developed in Western society in a different society where it has a different meaning (imposed etic)
  • Cultural bias: Rothbaum argues that attachment theory = western bias 
  • Indigenous theories: may be the solution, Posada and Jacobs suggest there are universal attachment behaviours 
7 of 10

Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis

  • Value of maternal care - children need a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with mother or appropriate substitute
  • Critical period - frequent and/or prolonged seperations from a mother will have negative effects if they occur before 2½ (critical period) or up to 5 (sensitive period) if there is no substitute
  • Long-term consequences - emotional maladjustment or mental illness e.g. depression. 
  • 44 juvenile thieves - findings: 86% of affectionless thieves had frequent seperations before 2 compared with 17% of other thieves and 2% of the control group. 


  • Emotional rather than physical seperation is harmful (Radke-Yarrow et al)
  • Support for long-term effects (Bifulco et al)
  • Real world application - Laura's films brought about social change in hospitals (Bowlby and Robertson).
  • Individual differences - some children are more resillient, e.g. securely attached children in TB hospital (Bowlby et al)
  • Deprivation vs privation - loss of care (deprivation) may not have as serious consequences as total lack of attachment (privation) (Rutter)
8 of 10

Romanian Orphans

  • Rutter et al: 165 orphans w/ physical, cognitive + social development tested @ regular intervals
  • Findings: @ 11, orphans adopted before 6 months = good recovery, older adoptees = disinhibited attachments 
  • Le Mare and Audet: orphans physically smaller @ adoption by recovered by 10 and a half 
  • Zeanah et al: institutionalised orphans likelier to display disinhibited attachments compared to control group
  • Effects of institutionalisation: physical underdevelopment (deprivation dwarfism, Gardner), intellectual underfunctioning (Skodak and Skeels), disinhibited attachment, poor parenting (Quinton et al)


  • Individual differences: some children recover despite no attachments
  • Real-world: adoptions should be as early as possible so secure attachments can be formed (Singer et al)
  • Deprivation is only one factor, maternal deprivation should not be overexaggerated
  • Institutionalisation may just slow development rather than stop development: the children do recover suggesting that effects simply slow down development
9 of 10

Influence of early attachment

  • Internal working model - model of the world which enables individuals to predict and control their environment. Relates to a person's expectations about relationships. 
  • Hazan and Shaver placed a 'Love Quiz' in a newspaper and analysed 620 responses. 
  • Findings: positive relationships between attachment type (childhood and current type) and love experiences/attitudes (IWM)
  • Behaviours influenced by IWM - childhood friendships (Minnesota Child-Parent study), poor parenting (Quinton et al), romantic reoationships (Hazan and Shaver) and mental heath (attachment disorder).


  • Correlational research: IWM may not cause later relationship experiences
  • Retrospective classification: attachment type may be based on innacurate memories 
  • Support from longitudinal study (Simpson et al)
  • Overly deterministic: past attachment experiences do not always determine future relationships
  • Low correlations: meta-analysis suggest correlations between early attachment and later relationships may be as low as .10. 
  • Alternative explaination: adult relationships guided by self-verification 
10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »