Attachment

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  • Created on: 20-04-19 19:43

Introduction to Attachment

Caregiver-Infant Interaction

  • Interactions - babies have frequent and important interactions with their caregiver
  • Reciprocity - mothers respond to infant alertness; from 3 months close attention between mother and infant
  • Interactional synchrony - interactions become co-ordinated; Isabella et al: quality of attachment related to synchrony

Evaluation

  • Hard to know what is happening - can assume simple gestures/expressions are infant interactions
  • Controlled observations - capture fine detail of interactions
  • Purpose of synchrony and reciprocity - Feldman: just observations, purpose not entirely understood
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Introduction to Attachment

Attachment Figures

  • Parent-infant - traditionally mother-infant, other attachment figures like the father may also be important
  • Role of the father - Grossman et al: attachment to fathers less important but fathers may have a different role (play and stimulation)
  • Fathers as primary carers - Field: fathers as primary carers adopt attachment behaviours more typical of mothers

Evaluation

  • Inconsistent findings - different research questions, overall picture unclear
  • Children without fathers aren't different - suggests the father role isn't important
  • Fathers not primary attachments - may be due to traditional gender roles or biological differences
  • Socially sensitive research - working mothers 
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Schaffer's Stages of Attachment

Schaffer and Emerson

  • To investigate the age of attachment formation and attachments are formed with
  • Mothers of 60 Glaswegian babies reported monthly on separation anxiety
  • 25-32 weeks - 50% of babies showed separation anxiety towards particualr adult
  • In 65% of children, first specific attachment was to the mother
  • In further 30% the mother was the first joint object of attachment
  • 3% of fathers were first specific attachment
  • 27% of fathers were first joint object of attachment
  • 40 weeks - 80% of babies had a specific attachment, almost 30% displayed multiple attachments
  • 75% had formed an attachment with the father by 18-months

Evaluation

  • Good external validity - observations in participants' natural environment
  • Longitudinal design - same participants at each age, eliminating individual differences
  • Limited sample characteristics - all families from the same area + over 50-years ago so may lack generalisability
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Schaffer's Stages of Attachment

Stages of Attachment

  • Asocial stage - little observable social behaviour
  • Indiscriminate attachment - more observable attachment behaviour, e.g. accept cuddles from any adult
  • Specific attachments - stranger and separation anxiety in regard to one particular adult
  • Multiple attachments - attachment behaviour directed towards more than one adult

Evaluation

  • Asocial stage - social behaviour is hard to observe in the first few weeks but this doesn't mean that the baby is 'asocial'
  • Conflicting evidence - van Ljzendoorn et al: research in different contexts has found multiple attachments may appear first
  • Measuring multiple attachments - just because a child protests when an adult leaves does not necessarily mean attachment
  • Scaffer and Emerson used limited measures of attachment
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Animal Studies of Attachment

Lorenz's Research

  • Goslings saw Lorenz or mother goose when they hatched
  • Newly hatched chicks attach to the first moving object they see (imprinting)
  • Sexual imprinting - adult birds try to mate with whatever species or object they imprint on

Evaluation

  • Generalisability - birds and mammals have different attachment systems so Lorenz's results may not be relevent to humans
  • Some observations questioned - Guiton et al: birds imprinting on rubber gloves did later prefer their own species
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Animal Studies of Attachment

Harlow's Research

  • Baby monkeys given cloth or wire 'mother' with feeding bottle attached
  • Monkeys clung to the cloth surrogate rather than the wire one, regardless of which dispensed milk
  • Maternally deprived monkeys grew up socially dysfunctional
  • Critical period - after 90-days attachments wouldn't form

Evaluation

  • Theoretical value - demonstrated that attachment depends more on contact-comfort than feeding
  • Practical value - Howe: informs understanding of risk factors for child abuse
  • Ethical issues - suffering of the monkeys would be human-like
  • Can Harlow's findings be applied to humans?
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Explanations of Attachment: Learning Theory

Learning Theory

  • Classical conditioning - caregiver (NS) associated with food (UCS), caregiver becomes the conditioned stimulus
  • Operant conditioning - crying behaviour reinforced positively for infant, and negatively for caregiver
  • Attachment as a secondary drive - attachment becomes a secondary drive through association with hunger

Evaluation

  • Animals studies - Lorenz and Harlow showed that feeding is not the key to attachment
  • Human research - Scaffer + Efferson: most primary attachment figures were the mother even when others did most the feeding
  • Ignores other factors - cannot account for the importance of sensitive and interactional synchrony
  • Some elements of conditioning could still be involved
  • There is a newer learning theory explanation
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Explanations of Attachment: Bowlby's Theory

Bowlby's Theory

  • Monotropy - one particular attachment is different in quality and importance than others
  • Social releasers + critical period - innate 'cute' behaviours in the first 2 years
  • Internal working model - mental representations of the primary attachment relationship are templates for future relationships

Evaluation

  • Mixed evidence for monotropy - some babies form multiple attachments without a primary attachment; Suess et al: other attachments may contribute as much as a primary one
  • Support for social releasers - Brazleton et al: when social releasers were ignored babies were upset
  • Support for internal working model - Bailey et al: quality of attachment is passed on through generations in families
  • Monotropy is a socially sensitive idea
  • Temperament may be as important as attachment
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Ainsworth's Strange Situation

Strange Situation

  • 8-stage controlled observations
    • Child + caregiver enter unfamiliar playroom
    • Child is encouraged to explore
    • Stranger comes in + tries to interact with child
    • Caregiver leaves the child and stranger together
    • Caregiver returns + stranger leaves
    • Caregiver leaves the child alone
    • Stranger returns
    • Caregiver returns + is reunited with the child
  • Assessed proximity seeking, exploration + secure base, stranger + separation anxiety, response to reunion
  • Infants showed consistent patterns of attachment behaviour
  • Three types of attachment
    • Secure - enthusiastic greeting, generally content
    • Insecure avoidant - avoids reunion, generally reduced responses
    • Insecure resistant - resists reunion, generally more distressed
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Ainsworth's Strange Situation

Evaluation

  • Support for validity - attachment type predicts later social and personal behaviour (e.g. bullying)
  • Good reliability - different observers agree 90%+ of the time on children's attachment types
  • Culture-bound - attachment behaviour may have different meanings in different cultures
    • Strange Situation may be measuring different things
  • What does the Strange Situation measure?
  • There is at least one more attachment type
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Cultural Variations in Attachment

Studies

  • Van Ljzendoorn
    • Compared rates of attachment types in 8 countries
    • Found more variation within than between countries
  • Simonella et al
    • Italian attachment rates have changed
    • May be due to changing practices
  • Jin et al
    • Korean attachment rates similar to Japan
    • Could be due to similar child-rearing styles
  • It appears that attachment is innate and universal
  • Secure attachment is the norm
  • However, cultural practices affect rates of attachment types
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Cultural Variations in Attachment

Evaluation

  • Large samples - reduces the impact of anomalous so improves internal validity
  • Sample unrepresentative of cultures - countries do not equate to cultures nor to culturally specific methods of child-rearing so cannot make generalisations
  • Method of assessment is biased - research using Strange Situation imposes a USA test on other cultures (imposed etic)
  • Alternative explanation for similarity
  • Strange Situation lacks validity
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Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Theory of Maternal Deprivation

  • Separation vs deprivatoion - physical separation only leads to deprivation when the child loses emotional care
  • Critical period - the first 30-months are critical and deprivation in that time causes damage
  • Goldfarb: deprivastion causes low IQ
  • Bowlby: emotional development, e.g. affectionless psychopathy

Bowlby's 44 Thieves Study

  • Examine links between affectionless psychopathy and maternal deprivation
  • Sample of 44 criminal teenagers, accussed of stealing + control of 44 non-criminals
  • Participants interviewed for signs of affectionless psychopathy (lack of affection, lack of guilt, lack of empathy)
  • Families interviewed to establish if there was prolonged early separation from mothers
  • 14/44 were affectionless psychopaths, 17/44 had maternal deprivation
  • 12/14 had also experienced deprivation in first 2-years of their life
  • Control: 2/44 had maternal deprivation, 0/44 were affectionless psychopaths
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Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Evaluation

  • Evidence may be poor - orphans have experienced other traumas; Bowlby may have been a biased observer
  • Counter-evidence - Lewis: sample of 500, no link between early separation and later criminality
  • Sensitive period - Bowlby exaggerated the importance of the critical period
  • Animal studies show effects of maternal deprivation on social development
  • Failure to distinguish deprivation from privation
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Romanian Orphan Studies: Institutionalisation

Romanian Orphan Studies

  • Rutter's ERA Study
    • 165 orphans adopted in Britain
    • Some of those adopted later show low IQ and disinhibited attachment
  • Bucharest Early Intervention Project
    • Random allocation to instutional care or fostering
    • Secure attachment in 19% of instutuional group vs 74% in control
  • Disinhibited attachment and delay in intellectual development if institutionalisation is prolonged

Evaluation

  • Real-world application - both instituational care + adoption practices have been improved
  • Lewer extraneous variables - Romanian orphans had fewer negative influences before institutionalisation than e.g. war orphans
  • Romanian orphanages not typical - conditions were so bad that results may not generalise
  • Ethical issues, especially Bucharest Early Intervention Project
  • Practical applications to adoption and instituaional care practice
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Influence of Early Attachment on Later Relationshi

Attachment and Later Relationships

  • Internal working model - Bowlby's idea that the primary attachment relationship provides a template for later relationships
  • Relationships in later childhood - Kerns: securely attached children have better friendships; Myron-Wilson + Smith: securely attached children less likely to be involved in bullying
  • Relationships with romantic partners - McCarthy: securely attached adults have better relationships with friends + partners
    • Hazan + Shaver's 'Love Quiz'
      • Analysed 620 replies from quiz in American newspaper
      • 3 sections - current/most important relationship, general love experiences, + attachment type
      • Found postitive correlation between attachment type and love experience
      • Insecure-avoidant tended to reveal jealousy and fear of intimacy
  • Paternal relationships - Bailey et al: mothers' attachment type matched that of their mothers and their babies
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Influence of Early Attachment on Later Relationshi

Evaluation

  • Evidence is mixed - Zimmerman et al: found little relationship between quality of attachment and later attachment
  • Low validity - most studies assess infant attachment by retrospective self-report which lacks validity
  • Association does not mean causation - a 3rd factor like temperament might affect both infant attachment and later relationships
  • Influence of attachment is probabilistic 
  • Self-report is conscious but working models are not
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