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Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg's Research

A - to investigate cultural variations of attachment, and to investigate the number of type A,B, and C attachments across a range of countries.

P - the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 32 studies from 8 countries where the strange situation had been used to investigate mother-child attachment. 15 of the studies were conducted in the USA, 1,990 Strange Situation Classifications and results from 1230 children were used.

F - in all countries, secure attachment was the most common classification. The proportion of those classified as type B did vary however, between countries: 75% in Britain, 50% in China. Insecure resistant was the least common type. This ranged from 3% in Britain to 30% in Israel. Insecure avoidant was most commonly observed n Germany, and least commonly in Japan.

C - there is a difference in the pattern of attachment types across countries. Overall, the patterns of attachment were that to what Ainsworth found. Secure attachment seems to be the norm in a wide range of cultures.

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Evaluating Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg's research

Many of the studies used in the meta analysis had biased samples which cannot claim to be representative of each culture. For example, only 36 infants were used in the Chinese study.

The Strange Situation was created and tested in the USA, which means that it may be ethnocentric, as it will reflect the norms and values of American culture. This is a proble, as it assumes that attachment behaviour has the same meaning in all cultures, when in fact cultural perception and understanding of behaviour differ greatly.

G - it was generalisable as it was done across 8 countries.

R - standardised (used strange situation method), objective (didn't carry out their own studies, simply used data from other studies).

V - low internal validity as they could have wrongly interpreted the information.

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Bowlby's Maternal Deprvation Hypothesis

Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis explains what happens if attachments are broken. He argued that disruption of the attachment bond, even short term disruptions result in serious and permanent damage to a child's emotional, social and intellectual development. Disruption can occur in three ways:

Short term seperation - this consists of brief, temporary seperations fro attachment figures. For example, attending day care or having a childminder. The distress caused by short-term seperation is described in terms of the PDD model (protest, despair and detachment)

  • Protest - the immediate reaction to seperation involves crying, screaming, kicking, struggling to escape or clinging to the mother. This is a direct, outward expression of the child's anger, confusion, fear and bitterness to being left.
  • Despair - protest is replaced by a calmer behaviour. Anger and fear is still inwardly felt by the child but there is little response to offers of comfort. The child will comfort themselves instead, by sucking their thumbs etc.. Rejection of the
  • Detachment - the child will respond to people again, but will be more cautious and wary. Rejection of the caregiver once they return is common. Anger is also common.

Long term deprivation - this involves lengthy or permanent seperation from attachment figures. Most commonly this is due to divorce. On average, 40% of UK marriages end in divorce and within 2 years, 50% of divorced parents are not living with their children. Long-term deprivation also includes death,  imprisonment of a parent and adoption by different care givers. The consequences of maternal deprivation include delinquency, affectionaless psychopathy and low IQ (mental retardation).

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Evaluating Ainsworth's study

G - The findings have been used in lots of other countries, however the study was ethnocentric.

R - it was based in a lab so it can be repeated, behavioural characteristics were well set out and documented, allowing for replication.

A - the strange situation testing procedure has become the accepeted method of assessing attachments.

V - you're measuring what you think you're measuring because all middle class children were used (they would have been from a similar family background), however it lacks ecological validity because it was set up in a lab.

E - the experiment purposefully distresses the infants to see their reactions, however stress caused to the infants is no more than would normally be experienced in everyday life.

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Findings and Conclusion of Ainsworth's Study

F - Ainsworth identified 3 main attachment styles, secure (type b), insecure-avoidant (type A) and insecure resistant (type C). She concluded that these attachment styles were the result of early interactions with the mother.

Secure Attachment (type B) - these children explore happily but regularly go back to their caregiver. They usually show seperation distress and moderate stranger axiety. Around 60-75% of British toddlers are classified as secure.

Insecure - avoidant attachment (type A) - these children explore freely but fo not seek proximity or show secure base behaviour. They show little or no reactin when their caregiver leaves and they make little effort to make contact when the caregiver returns. 20-25% of British toddlers are classified as insecure avoidant.

Insecure resistant (type C) these children seek greater proximit than others and so explore less. They show huge stranger and seperation anxiety but they resist comfort when reunited. Around 3% of British toddlers are classified as insecure resistant.

C - Ainsworth concluded that these attachment styles were the result of early interactions with the mother. She suggested the 'caregiver sensitivity hypothesis' as an explanation for different attachment types.

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Evaluation of Bowlby's theory

Supporting - Harlow investigated the mechanisms by which new born monkeys bond with their mothers. They found that infants would only go to the wire mother for food, and once fed the went straight back to the cloth mothers. Also, they would go to the cloth mother for comfort. This shows support for the theory as the monkeys were receiving constant support from the cloth mother.

Opposing - Shaffer and Emerson investigated the formation of early attachment. They found that most babies do attach to one person but that a significant minority appeared able to also form multiple attachments. This shows that the attachment to the primary caregiver may not be as special or different to later attachments, as Bowlby suggested.

General - It is intended to boost the importance of a mother's role and boost their status.

There is clear evidence to show that 'cute infant behaviours' are intended to initiate social interactions and that doing so is important for both mother and baby.

Monotropy is seen to be controversial as it has implications for lifestyle choices of mothers, e.g. the law of accumulated seperation suggests that seperation for a long period of time can lead to poor quality attachment.

This also pushes mothers into a particular lifestlye such as not returning to work after the birth of their children.

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Describing Ainsworth's Research

A - to investigate individual difference in attachment, and the security of attachment in one-to-two year olds using the 'strange situation'.

P - The strange situation is a controlled observation procedure that takes place in a labratory. The experiment is set up in a small room with two way glass for the behaviour of the infant to be observed covertly by psychologists. The sample was made up of 100 middle class, American 12-18 month olds. The behaviour of the infants is observed and scored using the 'Strange Situation Classification'

  • Proximity Seeking - an infant with good attachment will stay close to the caregiver
  • Exploration and secure base behaviour - good attachment enables a child to feel confident to explore, using their caregivers as a secure base.
  • Stranger anxiety - this displays a close attachment as the child will be anxious when a stranger approaches.
  • Seperation anxiety - this displays a close attachment as the child will protest when they are seperated from the caregiver.
  • Reunion behaviour - the child's response after a short period of time being seperated from the caregiver.

The procedure has seven episodes: the caregiver takes the infant into the lab room and they are lef to explore, a stranger enters and approaches the infant, the caregiver leaves unobtrusively and the stranger interacts, the caregiver returns and the stranger leaves, the caregiver leaves so the infant is alone, stranger enters and interacts, caregiver returns and greets.

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Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Theory

Privation - this concerns children who have never formed an attachment bond. This is more likely to lead to long-lasting damage than seperation and deprivation. Most research comes from case studies due to them being rare, for example Genie.

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Evaluating Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Hypothesi

Supporting Short-term Seperation - Robertson and Robertson investigated how brief seperation from their mothers affected children's metnal state and psychological development. One child experienced extreme distress when he spent 9 days in residential care whilst his mother was in the hospital. On his mother's return, he was confused and struggled to get away from her. The child appeared to go through the PDD model. This shows evidence for protest, despair and detachment following short-term seperation, and so supports the theory.

Supporting Long-term deprivation - Rodgers and Pryor investigated long-term deprivation and attachment. They found that children who experienced two or more divorces have the lowest adjustment rates and most behavioural problems. This suggests that continual broken attachments increase the chances of negative outcomes for children, thus supporting the theory.

Supporting Privation - Rymer conducted a case study on the famous case of Genie, a girl who was denied human interactions, beaten and strapped to a potty until the age of 13. She could not speak or stand up. she received years of therapy and her language ability was measured. He found that her IQ had improved from 38 to 74 in 8 years. However, her physical and intellectual abilities deteriorated. This shows that privation has severe and long-lasting effects.

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Infleunce of Early Attachments on Childhood and Ad

The continuity hypothesis sees children's attachment types being reflected in their later relationships. This idea is based on Bowlby's internal working model, where an infant's primary attachment experiences forms a model or template for future relationships.

The continuity hypothesis believes that there is continuity between early attachment experiences and later relationships. The quality of a child's first attachment is crucial because this template will affect the nature of future relationships.

Childhood relationships - there is contiuity between early attachment styles and the quality of childhood relationships. Children who form attachments early on to eachother will not go onto form adult sexual relationships with eachother.

Attachment type is associated with the quality of peer relationships in childhood. Those who are securely attached tend to form the best quality childhood friendships. Whereas insecurely attached tend to have friendship difficulties.

Adult relationships (with romantic partners) - it is believed that those who are securely attached have the best friendships and romantic relationships in the future.

Adult relationships (as parents) - internal working models also affect the child's ability to parent their own children. People tend to base their parenting style on their internal working model so attachment type tends to be passed on.

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Evaluating Influence of Early Attachment

Supporting - Myron-Wilson and Smith investigated attachment type and bullying involvement using standardised questionnaires in 196 children aged 7-11 in London. They found that securely attached children were very unlikely to be involved in bullying and insecure-avoidant were the most likely to be victims. Insecure resistant were most likely to be the bullies. This shows that the type B has the best qulity friendships and types A and C had the most difficulty.

McCarthy studied 40 women aged 25-44 years old who had been assessed in infancy to establish their attachment types. Those who were assessed as securely attached had the best adult friendships and romantic relationships.

Bailey et al considered the attachment types of 99 mothers to their babies and to their own mothers. Mother-baby attachment was assessed using the Strange Situation and mother-own-mother attachment was assessed using an adult attachment interview. The majority of women had the same attachment classifications both to their babies and their mothers. This shows support for the internal working model.

Opposing - Zimmerman assessed infant attachment type and adolescent attachment to parents. He found little relationship between the quality of infant and adolescent attachment. This shows that research evidence into continuity is mixed and is a problem because it is not what we would expect if internal working models were important in development.

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Evaluating Influence of Early Attachment

General Strengths

Early attachment types can be seen to influence the development of individual differences in cognitive ability, emotional responses and social skill, all of which influence the quality of later childhood relationships.

The fact that children who form attachments to each other in early life do not generally go onto form adult sexual relationships, suggests evidence for an evolutionary anti-incest device that serves to stop related individuals breeding.

General Weaknesses

It is unlikely that you can predict the quality of later relationships based solely on early attachment and attachment types. This is because it is likely that other factors are influential too. For example, age differences, financial pressures, personality types etc.

There are alternative explanations for the continuity that exists. For example, a child's temperament may influence both infant attachment and the quality of later relationships.

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Evaluating Rutter et al

G - although lots of research has been carried out, it is possible that the conditions in these particular romanian orphanages were so bad, the results cannot be generalised to other orphanages and as a consequence, cannot be applied to understanding the impact of better quaity instituational care.

A - studying the Romanian orphanages has enhanced our understanding of the effects of insititutionalisation. These results have led to improvements in the way children are cared for in institutions today.

V - many orphan studied prior to this one were questioned in terms of validity due to the children having experienced loss or trauma before being institutionalised. These children were often traumatised by their awful experiences, and it can be hard to isolate the cause.

These studies into the Romanian orphanages have fewer extraneous variables than other orphan studies. Therefore, it is easier to study the effect of insititutionalisation without confounding variables. These studies have higher internal validity.

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Rutters follow up study

P - they followed a group of 165 Romanian orphanages adopted in Britain to test to what extent good care could make up for poor early experiences in institutions. Physical, cognitive and emotional development has been assessed at ages 4, 6, 11 and 15 years. A control group of 52 British children adopted around the same time have served as a control group.

Findings - when they first arrived in the UK, half the adoptees showed signs of mental retardation and the majority were severely undernourished. At age 11, the adopted children showed differential rates of recovery that were related to their age of adoption. The mean IQ of those children adopted before the age of six months was 102, compared with 86 for those adopted between six months and two years and 77 for those adopted after two years. These differences remained at age 16.

In terms of attachment, there seemed to be a difference in outcome related to whether the children were adopted before the age of six months or after. Those adopted after showed 'disinhibited attachment', where they were clingy and attention seeking.

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Evaluating Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Hypothesi

Opposing - Rutter's romanian orphan study in detai.

General Strengths

Evidence from Bowlby's theory has had wider implications linked to the health and social care services, for example, parents can stay in beds in hospitals when their children are there, seperating children from their parents by social services only occurs in extreme cases etc.

It is logical that long-term deprivation has a greater negative effect on children's development than short-term seperation. There is also a lot of research to back this up.


Much of the evidence that links to short-term seperation to negative outcomes is correlational and doesn't show causality.

There are individual differences in reactions to short-term seperations. Some children, such as type B's, cope better with seperation. This suggets that only some children will experience distress and that it is not an effect for all children.

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Rutter et al 1998

A - to investigate whether loving and nurturing care could overturn the effects of privation that children had suffered in Romanian Orphanages.

P - They conducted a quasi experiment with a longitudinal study. The IV was the age of adoption, and the DV was the children's level of cognitive functioning. Three age groups were studied:

  • 1 - children adopted before 6 months old.
  • 2 - children adopted between sixth months and 2 years of age.
  • 3 - children adopted after 2 years of age.

111 Romanian orphans were assessed for height, head circumference and cognitive functioning on arrival in Britain. All children were assessed again at age 4. A control group of 52 British adoptees were also used to deicde whether negative effects were due to seperation from carers or the institutional conditions.

Findings - approx. 50% of the Romanian orphans were retarded in cognitive functioning at intial assessment and most were underweight. The control group did not show these defecits. At age 4, the Romanian orphans showed great improvement in physical and cognitive development, with the orphans adopted before 6 months doing as well as the British children.

Conclusion - The negative effects of instituionalisation can be overcome with adequate substitue care.

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Evolutionary Theory - Bowlby

Bowlby rejected the Learning Theory explanation of attachment because it does not explain why babies can attach to people who do not feed them. Instead he proposed an evolutionary explanation.

He believed that attachment is an innate system that gives infants a survival advantage, that by attaching to a caregiver and staying close to them, they can help them to survive potential threats. He was influenced by the work of Lorenz and Harlow.

Monotropy - Bowby emphasised the importance of a child's attachment to one particular caregiver. The child's attachment to this caregiver is different but more important than others. The main caregiver is usally the mother, but this does not need to be the biological mother.

The more time that is spent with the primary attachment figure, the better. There are two reasons for this: the law of continuity (the more constant and predictable a child's care is, the better quality of attachment they form). And law of accumulated seperation (every time the child is seperated fro the mother, the effect adds up. The more seperation they have, the worse)

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Evaluating Behaviourist Theory


Lorenz investigated imprinting and attachment in animals. He found that when he allowed geese to hatch in his presence, when he was this first moving object they saw, that they imprinted on him and followed him everywhere, as if he was their mother. This shows that attachment can occur simply through who you see when you are born.


The association between the primary caregiver and providing comfort and social interaction is a major part of what builds attachment, therefore classical conditioning must at least be part of the basis for attachment.

Many aspects of human development are concerned with/affected by conditioning. Therefore, it could also be the case for attachment.

The learning theory ignored other factors associated with forming attachments - those that are not to do with food.

If attachment developed solely as a result of feeding, there would be no purpose for the compex interactions that we see in everyday lives and the quality of infant-carer interactions.

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Claims and Components of Attachment

Claims - attachment is a close, two-way emotional bond between individuals in which each individual sees the other as essential for their own emotional security. Attachment in humans takes a few months to develop.

Components - attachment can be seen when people display the following behaviours:

Proximity - people try to stay physically close to those they are attached to.

Seperation distress - people are distressed when an attachment figure leaves their presence.

Secure-base behaviour - we have the need to make regular contact with attachment figures, even when we are independent of them. Infants display a secure base when they regularly return to them while playing.

Reciprocity - caregiver-infant interaction is reciprocal, i.e. each person's interactions affect the others.

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Caregiver - Infant interactions

Babies have meaningful social interactions from an early age. This is with their carers. They are believed to be important for social development caregiver-infant attachments.

Babies also have 'alert phases' which are periodic and signal to their carers that they are ready for interaction.

3 months - interactions are frequent and focus on paying attention to each other's verbal signals and facial expressions.

Their interactions are reciprocal and respond to each other and produce a response. Both mother and child initiate the interactions and take it in turns to do so. It can be referred to as a dance as they respond to each others moves. The mothers and babies actions mirror each other when they interact. They are said to be synchronised as they carry out the same actions simultaneously.

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Meltzoff and Moore - Internal Synchrony

Observation of 2-3 week old infants.

Adults showed one of three facial expressions or one of three gestures. The observation of the reaction was filmed and identified by indpendent observers.

They found an association between the expression/ gesture made by the adult and the babies action. The higher the levels of internal synchrony = the quality of mother-infant attachment.

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Lorenz's research

Aim - to investigate impriting and attachment, using geese.

Procedure -  He took a clutch of eggs, and kept half of them until they were about to hatch. When they were ready to hatch, he placed half with their mother, and kept the other half with him. They were placed in an incubator, and when they hatched, Lorenz was the first moving object they saw. He imitated a mother duck's quack, and the birds regarded him as their mother and treated him accordingly.

Findings - The incubator group followed Lorenz everywhere, whereas the control group, hatched in the presence of their mother, followed her. When the two groups were mixed up, the experimental group continued to follow Lorenz, and the control group continued to follow the mother duck.

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Evaluation of Shaffer and Emerson

Problems studying the asocial stage - Babies that are young have poor co-ordination and are generally pretty much immobile. It is therefore very difficult to make any judgements about them based on observations of behaviour.

Conflicting evidence on multiple attachments - Although there is no doubt that children become capable of multiple attachments at some point, it is still not entirely clear when. Some research seems to indicate that most if not all babies for attachments to a single main carer before they become capable of developing multiple attachments.

Measuring multiple attachment - There may be a problem with how multiple attachment is assessed. Just because a baby gets distressed when an individual leaves the room does not necessarily mean that the individual is a 'true' attachment figure.

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Stages of Attachment - Shaffer and Emerson

Stage 1 - Asocial - 0-8 weeks:

  • Behaviour betwen humans and non-human objects is quite similar.
  • Recognise specific faces.
  • Happier in presence of humans than when alone.
  • Preference for familiar individuals.
  • Prefer faces to non-faces.
  • Smile at anyone.

Stage 2 - Indiscriminate attachment - 2-7 months:

  • Recognise and prefer familiar people.
  • Smile more at familiar than unfamiliar faces.
  • Preference for people rather than inanimate objects.
  • Accept comfort from any adult.
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Stages of Attachment - Shaffer and Emerson

Stage 3 - Specific Attachments - 7-12 months:

  • Primary attachment to one particular individiual (the person who shows most sensitivity)
  • Show stranger anxiety.
  • Show seperation anxiety.
  • Use familiar adults as a secure base.

Stage 4 - Multiple Attachments - 1 year onwards:

  • Form secondary attachments with familiar adults with whom they spend time.
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Attachment figures: The Role of The Father

Arguments for 'it is essential that the mother is the primary caregiver and attachment figure':

Can cause later issues such as mental health if not attached properly.

Bonding already started in womb - preference for mothers voice.

Arguments against 'it is essential that the mother is the primary caregiver and attachment figure':

If mother goes straight back to work - the father has to be the primary caregiver.

Some babies are adopted from birth so don't have biological parents.

Homosexual couples don't always have a mother figure.

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Evaluating care-giver interactions


Observations of mother-infant interactions are well controlled. They usually take place in a lab and are often filmed or have two researchers present.

We can gather both qualitative and quantitative data for analysis, through the observations.

As babies are unaware of being observed or monitored, their behaviour does not change.


However, many actions that are being displayed are hand movements or changes in facial expression. We are unsure if an infant is deliberately imitating the adult or if it is an unconcious reaction.

Children growing up in a single of same sexed parent family do not develop any differently from those with two/heterosexual parents. If fathers have a distinct role, why aren't children without father figures different?

Fathers may not become the primary attachment figure due to gender roles and expectations from society about the mother being the nurturing parent (rather than them being more equipped to do the role).

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Learning theory as a description of attachment

Classical Conditioning

This type of conditioning relies on associations between stimuli - we learn that two things occur together. This type of conditioning considers the learning of reflex behaviour.

They key stimuli are neutral stimulus, unconditioned stimulus, conditioned stimulus.

They key responses are no response, unconditioned response and conditioned response.

In attachment, food serves as the UCS. Being fed gives us pleasure. Pleasure is the UCR, because it is reflexive, babies don't need to learn this. A caregiver is a neutral stimulus, as they do not produce any response in the beginning. When they provide food over time, they become associated with the food. The baby will expect food when they see the caregiver. This is when the the caregiver becomes a CS. Once conditioning has taken place, the sight of the caregiver produces a conditioned response of pleasure.

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Learning theory as a description of attachment

Operant conditioning

In this type of conditioning we learn the future behaviours are determined by their consequences. It is a type of learning in which future behaviour is determined by the consequences of past behaviour.

This type of conditioning considers the learning of voluntary behaviour, what we choose to do. The rewards and consequences of a behaviour could either strengthen or weaken a response. There are positive and negative reinforcers, and punishements. Positive and negative reinforcers strengthen a behaviour, punishments weaken a behaviour.

E.G. operant conditioning can explain why babies cry for comfort - they cry, which leads to a response from the caregiver. Providing the caregiver gives the correct response, this can lead to the baby learning to cry to get attention and comfort from the caregiver.

Drive Reduction

Learning theory also focusses on drive reduction: primary and secondary drives.

Primary drives are innate, biological motivators, e.g. hunger. We are motivated to eat in order to reduce the hunger drive. Secondary drives are the association between a stimuli and the satisfaction of the primary drive. Attachment is an example.

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Caregiver interactions - meltzoff and moore

Observation of 2-3 week old infants. Adults showed one of three facial expressions or one of three gestures.

The observation of the reaction was filmed and identified by independent observers.

An association between the expression / gesture made by the adult and the babies action. The higher the levels of interal synchrony = the better quality of mother - infant attachment.

IFS Structure

Investigated - interactional synchrony in babies

Found - an association between the expression/gesture made by the adult and the babies reaction.

Shows - the higher the levels of interactional synchrony = the better quality of mother-infant attachment.

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Evaluating Harlow's research


Harlow's experiment is sometimes justified as proving a valuable insight into the development of attachment and social behaviour. At the time of the research there was a dominant belief that attachment was related to physical rather than emotional care.

It could be argued that the benefits of the research outweigh the costs. For example, the research influenced the theoretical work of John Bowlby, the most important psychologist in attachment theory.

The study shows the application to real life. It has helped social workers to understand risk factors in child neglect and abuse. Therefore, they can intervene or prevent it.


Harlows work has been criticised as his experiments have been seen as unnecessarily cruel and of limited value in attempting to understand the effects of deprivation on human infants.

It was clear that the monkeys in this study suffered from emotional harm from being reared in isolation. This was evident when the monkeys were placed with a normal monkey, they sat huddled in a corner in a state of persistent fear.

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Evaluating Lorenz's research


To ensure imprinting had occured, Lorenz put all the goslings together under an upturned box and allowed them to mix. When the box was removed the two groups seperated to go to their respective 'mothers' - half to the goose, half to Lorenz.


Imprinting has consequences, both for short term survival and in the longer term forming internal templates for later relationships. Imprinting occurs without any feeding taking place. If no attachment has developed within 32 hours, it's unlikely that any attachment will ever develop.

There are issues with generalising the findings from birds to humans. Mammalian attachment may be very different to that of humans. E.g. they may be able to form attachments at any time, not just in infancy.

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Describing Harlow's research

Aim - to test learning theory by comparing attachment behaviour in baby monkys given a wire surrogate mother producing milk with those given soft towelling mother producing no milk.

Procedure - he made two different types of surrogate mother, a harsh wire mother, and a soft towelling mother. 16 babies were used, four in each of the following conditions:

  • a cage with a wire mother producing milk and a towelling mother producing no milk.
  • a cage with a wire mother producing no milk and a towelling mother producing milk.
  • a cage with a wire mother producing milk.
  • a cage with a towelling mother producing milk.
  • The amount of time spent with each mother ad the amount of feeding time was recorded.
  • Monkeys were frightened with a loud noise to test which 'mother' they prefered when they were feeling stressed or scared.
  • He also used a larger cage to test for the monkeys' degree of exploration.

Findings - mokeys preferred the towelling mother when given the choice of mothers, regardless of whether it produced milk or not. They even stretched across to the wire mother to feed, whilst still clinging on to the towelling one. Those that only had the wire mother showed signs of stress, and when the loud noise was present, all clung to the towelling mother when available. This therefore suggests that monkeys have an innate need for contact comfort, suggesting that emotional security is more important than food.

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