- Created by: Daisy Essex
- Created on: 26-02-19 16:21
Caregiver-infant interaction - Reciprocity
A description of how two people interact. Mother-infant interaction is reciprocal in that both infant and mother respond to each other’s signals and each elicits a response from the other. Feldman and Eidelman (2007) found that mothers typically pick up on and respond to infant alertness around two-thirds of the time. Feldman (2007) found that from around three months of age, these interactions tend to be more frequent and involve close attention to each other’s verbal signals and facial expressions. A key element of this interaction is reciprocity. An interaction is reciprocal when each person responds to the other and elicits a response from them. Brazleton et al. (1975) described the interaction between mother and baby as a dance because it is just like a couple’s dance in that each partner responds to the moves of the other.
- It is hard to know what is happening when observing infants
Gratier (2003) said that many studies involving observation of interactions show the same patterns of interaction. Since children are so young, we cannot really know for certain that behaviours seen in these studies have meaning.
Caregiver-infant interaction - Interactional Synch
Mother and infant reflect actions and emotions of the other and do this in a synchronised way. Meltzoff and Moore (1977) observed the beginnings of interactional synchrony from as young as two weeks old. An adult displayed one of three facial expressions or distinctive gestures. The child’s response was recorded and identified by independent observers. An association was found between the expression/gesture and the response from the babies. Isabella et al. (1989) observed 30 mothers and infants together and assessed the degree of synchrony and the quality of mother-infant attachment. It was concluded that high levels of interactional synchrony were associated with better quality mother-infant attachment.
+ Controlled observations capture fine detail
Observations of mother-infant relationships are usually well-controlled procedures, with both mother and infant being filmed, often from multiple angles, capturing every emotion. Aspects of behaviour can be recorded and repeated increasing validity.
- Socially sensitive research: working mothers
Research into mother-infant interaction is sensitive as it suggests that children may be disadvantaged by particular child-rearing practices. In particular, mothers who return to work shortly after a child is born restrict the opportunities for achieving interactional synchrony. This suggests that mothers should not return to work so soon and has socially sensitive implications.
Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found that the majority of babies did become attached to their mother first then within a few weeks formed secondary attachments to other family members including the father. In 75% of the infants studied, an attachment was formed with the father by the age of 18 months.
The role of the father
Grossman (2002) carried out a longitudinal study looking at both parents’ behaviour and its relationship to the quality of children attachments into their teens. Quality of infant attachment with mothers but not fathers was related to children’s attachments in adolescence, suggesting that father attachment is less important. However, quality of father’s play was related to the quality of adolescent attachment, suggesting father attachments are more to do with play than nurturing.
Fathers as primary carers
When fathers take the role of the primary caregiver they tend to adopt motherly behaviour. Tiffany Field (1978) found that primary caregiver fathers, like mothers, spend more time smiling, imitating and holding infants than the secondary caregiver fathers. This behaviour appears to be important in building an attachment with the infant. So fathers can be the more nurturing attachment figure.
Evaluation of Attachment figures
- If fathers have a distinct role, why aren’t children without fathers different?
Grossman found that fathers have a distinct role in their child’s development. However, MacCallum and Golombok (2004) found that children growing up in single-parent families do not develop any differently to children who grow up in two-parent families. This would suggest that the father’s role in attachment is not important.
- Inconsistent findings on fathers
On one hand, some psychologists are interested in the role fathers have as secondary attachment figures, whereas others are interested in seeing the father as a primary attachment figure. This is a problem because it means psychologists cannot precisely answer the question 'what is the role of the father?'
- Why don’t fathers generally become primary attachments?
Fathers may not feel they should act like the primary caregiver as traditional gender roles tell women to be the caring and nurturing ones, not fathers. On the other hand, it could be that female hormones e.g. oestrogen create higher levels of nurturing and therefore women are biologically pre-disposed to be the primary attachment figure.
Schaffer and Emerson study
The study included 60 babies (31 male, 29 female) all from Glasgow. The majority of skilled working-class families. Babies and their mothers were visited at home every month for the first year and again at 18 months. Researchers asked the mothers questions about the kind of protests the baby showed at seven everyday separations (separation anxiety). Researchers also studied the level of stranger anxiety within the babies.
Between 25 and 32 weeks of age, about 50% of babies showed separation anxiety towards a particular adult (usually the mother), showing specific attachment.
Attachment tended to be toward the caregiver who was the most interactive and responded more appropriately to the babies’ signals (showing reciprocity).
By the age of 40 weeks, 80% of the babies had a specific attachment and almost 30% had formed multiple attachments.
Evaluation of Schaffer and Emerson study
+ Good external validity
The study was carried out in the homes of the participant, and most of the research (except stranger anxiety) was conducted by the parents during everyday activities. This means that the behaviour of the babies was unlikely to be affected by the presence of observers.
+ Longitudinal design
The study was carried out longitudinally. This means that the study has high internal validity as they do not have confounding variables, like other designs such as cross-sectional designs.
- Limited sample characteristics
The sample size of 60 was good considering the large volume of data gathered on each participant. However, most babies were from the same area, meaning that the results are not generalisable to the whole population.
Stages of attachment
Stage 1: Asocial stage (first few weeks)
The baby is forming bonds with its carers, but behaviour towards humans and objects is very similar. Babies show preferences for familiar adults and are happier when in the presence of humans.
Stage 2: Indiscriminate attachment (2-7 months)
Babies show a preference for people rather than objects, and recognise and prefer familiar adults. They usually accept comfort from any adult, so are described to be indiscriminate.
Stage 3: Specific attachment (7+ months)
Babies start to display anxiety towards strangers and when the familiar adult leaves (usually the mother). This adult is then called the primary attachment figure, though it is not necessarily with whom the baby spends the most time with.
Stage 4: Multiple attachments
Babies start to form attachments to secondary attachment figures. In Schaffer and Emerson’s study, 79% of babies had formed multiple attachments within a month of forming a primary attachment.
Evaluation of stages of attachment
- Problems studying the asocial stage
Due to the babies’ poor co-ordination and their inability to move around. This makes it very difficult to observe behaviour when there is hardly any observable behaviour.
- Conflicting evidence on multiple attachments
It is still not entirely clear when babies become able to form multiple attachments. Bowlby (1969) indicates that most babies form attachments to one caregiver before they become capable of developing multiple attachments. However, van IJzendoorn et al. (1993) believes that babies form multiple attachments from the outset.
- Measuring multiple attachments
There may be a problem with the way that multiple attachments are measured. Bowlby (1969) pointed out that children have playmates as well as attachment figures, and may cry when the playmate leaves the room, though this does not show attachment
Animal studies of attachment - Lorenz's research
Lorenz first observed imprinting when his neighbour gave him a duckling when he was a child.
Procedure - He set up a classic experiment in which he randomly divided a clutch of goose eggs. Half the eggs were hatched with the mother goose in their natural environment and the other half-hatched in an incubator where the first moving object they saw was Lorenz
Findings - The incubator group followed Lorenz everywhere whereas the control group followed their mother. When the two groups were mixed, the control group continued to follow the mother and the experimental group followed Lorenz. This is imprinting - bird species follow first moving object they see.
Lorenz identified a critical period in which imprinting needs to take place. If imprinting doesn't occur within that time, Lorenz found that chicks didn't attach themselves to a mother.
He observed that birds that imprinted on a human would often later display courtship behaviour towards humans. A peacock was reared in a reptile house and the first moving object he saw was a tortoise. As an adult, the peacock showed courtship behaviour towards the giant tortoises.
Evaluation of Lorenz's research
- Generalisability to humans
Lorenz was interested in imprinting in birds, but his findings can't be generalised to humans. The mammalian attachment system is quite different from that in birds. For example, mammalian mothers show more emotional attachment t young then do birds and mammals may be able to form attachments at any time. This means that it isn't appropriate to try to generalise any of Lorenz's research to humans.
- Some of Lorenz's observations have been questioned
The impact of imprinting on mating behaviour is not as permanent as Lorenz believed. Guiton et al. found that chickens imprinted on yellow washing up gloves would try to mate with them as adults but after a while, they eventually learned to prefer mating with chickens.
Animal studies of attachment - Harlow's research
Harlow observed that newborn monkeys kept alone in a bear cage usually didn't survive but if they were given something soft e.g. a cloth, they survived.
He reared 16 baby monkeys with two wire models (mothers). In one condition milk was dispensed by the plain wire mother whereas in the second condition the milk was dispensed by the cloth-covered mother.
It was found that the baby monkeys preferred cuddling the soft object rather than the wire one and got comfort from the soft one when frightened regardless of which dispensed milk. This showed that 'contact comfort' was of more importance than food.
Maternally deprived monkeys as adults - The monkeys reared with wire mothers were most dysfunctional. Even those reared with soft toys did not develop normal social behaviour. They were more aggressive, less sociable and bred less often. As mothers, some of the deprived monkeys neglected their young even killing them.
The critical period for normal development - Harlow concluded that there was a critical period for this behaviour. A mother figure had to be introduced to an infant monkey within 90 days for an attachment to form. After 90 days, an attachment was impossible and damage became irreversible.
Evaluation of Harlow's research
+ Theoretical value
Harlow showed that attachment doesn't develop as a result of being fed by a mother figure but as a result of contact comfort. He also showed the importance of early relationships for later social development e.g. rearing children.
+ Practical value
It has helped social workers understand risk factors in child neglect and abuse and so they intervene to prevent this from happening. These findings also tell us how to care for captive monkeys in the wild e.g. breeding programmes.
- Ethical issues
The monkeys suffered greatly. The species is considered similar to humans so can be generalised which means the suffering they were feeling was human-like. Harlow was aware of the suffering and referred to the wire mothers as 'iron maidens' - medieval torture device.
Learning theory of attachment
Classical conditioning is learning by association. The child learns to associate the carer with food. Before conditioning, the food (UCS) brings baby pleasure (UCR). During conditioning and overtime, the parent (NS) keeps bringing the baby food which makes the baby happy. Therefore after conditioning, the baby associates the parent to food so the presence of the parent (CS) causes the baby to be happy (CR).
Operant conditioning is learning by consequence. If crying results in feeding, then the consequences are pleasant and crying is reinforced therefore the baby will cry to get food - positive reinforcer. Carers dislike hearing a baby cry so by giving them food the baby stops crying which is a negative reinforcer as it encourages the carer to feed the child. Smiling by the baby works as a positive reinforcer so the carer behaves in a way to evoke smiles. In this was an attachment bond is formed.
Attachment as a secondary drive
As well as conditioning, learning theory draws on the concept of drive reduction. Hunger can be seen as a primary drive as we are motivated to eat in order to survive. This theory is also known as the cupboard love theory. This is because it believes that attachments only form because of the infant’s love of food. According to this theory, no food would mean no attachment.
Evaluation of learning theory of attachment
- Counter evidence from animal research
Animal research has shown that animals do not necessarily attach themselves to those who feed them. Lorenz’s geese had already formed attachments (imprinted) on and stuck to him regardless of who fed them. Therefore, it is clear that attachment does not develop as a result of feeding.
- Counter evidence from human research
Human research has suggested that feeding is not an important factor in humans. Schaffer and Emerson found that babies formed an attachment to their biological mother, even when other carers did most of the feeding.
+ Some elements of conditioning could still be involved
Many aspects of human development are affected by conditioning. The problem with learning theory as an explanation for attachment is mostly the idea that feeding provides the unconditional stimulus, reinforcement or primary drive.
Adaptive - Bowlby proposed that attachment is evolutionary and an innate system that gave a survival advantage.
Monotropy - means ‘one carer’. Bowlby suggested that you can only form one special intense attachment (this is typically but not always with the mother). This attachment is unique, stronger and different from others. Bowlby believed that the more time a baby spent with the primary caregiver, the better of the child will be. He put forward a principle stating the more constant and predictable a child's care, the better the quality of their attachment - Law of continuity
Critical period - This is the time in which an attachment can form i.e. around 2 years old. Bowlby suggested that if an attachment is not formed in this time, it never will. If an attachment does not form, the child will find it hard to form relationships later in life.
Social releasers - Babies are born with innate 'cute' behaviours e.g. smiling or cooing to encourage attention from adults. These activate the adult attachment system making the adults feel love for the baby.
Internal working model - A child forms a mental representation of their primary caregiver and serves as a model for all other relationships. A child whose first relationship was loving and reliable is more likely to form a relationship like this in the future. A child whose first relationship was poor and unreliable will tend to form poor relationships in which they expect the same treatment from others. Also, the model affects your parenting ability with your own children as people tend to base their parenting behaviour on their own experiences.
Evaluation of Bowlby's Theory
- Mixed evidence for monotropy
Bowlby believed that babies generally formed one special attachment to their primary caregiver. Schaffer and Emerson disagree as they found most babies did attach to one person first but, they were able to form multiple attachments at the same time. It is also unclear whether there is something unique about the first attachment. Suess et al. found that attachment to the mother is more important in predicting later behaviour. However, this may mean their attachments is stronger, not necessarily that is different in quality.
+ Support for social releasers
Brazelton et al. (1975) observed mothers and babies and reported interactional synchrony. They then extended the study from observation to experiment. Primary attachment figures were instructed to ignore their babies' social releasers. The babies initially showed some distress but, when the attachment figures continued to ignore the baby, some responded by curling up and lying motionless. The fact the babies had such a strong reaction supports Bowlby's ideas about the significance of social releasers.
+ Support for internal working model
Bailey et al. assessed 99 mothers with one-year old babies on the quality of their attachment to their own mothers and their babies using interviews and observation. It was found that the mothers who reported they had a poor attachment to their own parents were more likely to have a poor attachment to their own child.
Ainsworth's Strange Situation
Procedure - The experiment was conducted in a lab experiment. Each procedure has seven episodes and lasted for 3 minutes.
Proximity seeking - An infant with a good attachment will stay fairly close to the caregiver.
Exploration and secure base - Good attachment enables a child to feel confident to explore using caregiver as a secure base.
Stranger anxiety - A sign of becoming closely attached is a display of anxiety when a stranger enters.
Separation anxiety - A sign of becoming closely attached is to protest when you are separated from caregiver.
Findings of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
Insecure-avoidant attachment (Type A)
These infants explore freely but don't seek proximity or show secure base behaviour. They are not bothered when the caregiver leaves, show no reunion behaviour when the caregiver returns and show no stranger anxiety. 20-25%.
Secure attachment (Type B)
These infants explore happily but regularly go back to their caregiver (proximity and secure base behaviour). They are moderately upset when the caregiver leaves, are readily comforted when the caregiver returns and show moderate stranger anxiety. 60-70%.
Insecure-resistant (Type C)
These infants explore much less and seek greater proximity. They show strong separation and stranger anxiety but resist comfort from the caregiver when reunited. Around 3%.
Evaluation of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
+ Support for validity
Attachment types A, B & C are strongly predictive of later development. Most secure babies go on to have better outcomes in many areas from success at school to romantic relationships. Insecure-resistant attachment is associated with the worse outcomes including bullying in later life and adult mental health problems (Ward et al. 2006). This shows validity as it can explain outcomes later in life.
+ Good inter-rater reliability
The different observers all agreed on the attachment type of the children they were observing. This may be because the study is highly controlled, and the behavioural categories are easy to observe. Bick et al. (2012) reviewed the data and found an agreement of 94% between observers. This means we are confident that the results don't depend on the observer.
- Lack of internal validity
Children can form multiple attachments with different people. Main and Weston found children acted differently and displayed different attachment styles depending on who they were with. Children may show secure attachment to the mother but insecurely attached to dad. This is a weakness because it may be measuring relationships with different people, not the child's actual attachment type.
Van Ijzendoorn's culture variation study
Van Ijzendoorn and Pieter Kroonenberg (1988) conducted a study to look at the proportions of secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant attachments across different countries.
Procedure - Meta-analysis of the strange situation used in 32 studies across 8 countries. Overall the 32 studies had the results of 1990 children. All studies comprised at least 35 mother-infant pairs with infants younger than 2.
Findings - Wide variation between the proportions of attachment types in different studies. In all countries, secure attachment was the most common classification. The proportion varied from 75% in Britain to 50% in China. Insecure-resistant was overall the least common type although the proportions ranged from 3% in Britain to around 30% in Israel. Insecure-avoidant attachments were observed most commonly in Germany at 35% and least commonly in Japan at 5%. An interesting finding is that variations between the results of studies within the same country were 150% greater than those between countries.
Other studies of culture variations
An Italian Study - Simonella et al (2014) conducted a study in Italy and assessed 76 12-month olds using the strange situation. They found 50% were secure, with 36% insecure-avoidant. This is a lower rate of secure attachment that has been found in many studies. The researchers suggest this is because increasing numbers of mothers of very young children work long hours and use professional childcare. These findings suggest that cultural changes can make a dramatic difference to patterns of secure and insecure attachment.
A Korean study - Jin et al (2012) conducted a study in Korea and assessed 87 children using the strange situation. The overall proportions of insecure and secure babies were similar to those in most countries. However, more of those classified as insecurely attached were resistant and only one child was avoidant. This distribution was similar to the distribution of attachment types found in Japan. Since Japan and Korea quite similar child-rearing styles this similarly might be explained in terms of child-rearing style.
Conclusions - Secure attachment seems to be the norm in a wide range of culture, supporting Bowlby's idea that attachment is innate and universal and this type is the universal norm. However, the research shows cultural practices have an influence on attachment type.
Evaluation of cultural variations in attachment
+ Large samples
Combining the results of attachment studies carried out in different countries means you end up with a very large sample. In Van Ijzendoorn meta-analysis there was a total of nearly 2000 babies and their primary attachment figures. Even Simonella et al. and Jin et al. had large comparison groups from previous research, although their own samples were smaller. This means the research has high internal validity.
- Samples tend to be unrepresentative of culture
The meta-analysis by Van Ijendoorn and Kroonenberg claimed to study cultural variation, but, the comparisons were between countries, not cultures. Within any country, there are many different cultures each with different child-rearing practices. An analysis by Van Ijzendoorn and Sagi (2001) found that distributions of attachment type in Tokyo (an urban setting) were similar to the Western studies, whereas a more rural sample had an over-representation of insecure-resistant individuals.
- Biased method
The strange situation was designed by an American researcher based on a British theory (Bowlby). There is a question over whether these theories can be applied to other cultures. Trying to apply a theory designed for one culture to another culture is known as imposed etic.
Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation
Maternal deprivation - The emotional and intellectual consequences of separation between a child and primary caregiver. Bowlby proposed that continuous care from a caregiver is essential for psychological development and that prolonged separation from this adult causes serious damage to emotional and intellectual development.
Separation - The child not being in the presence of the primary attachment figure. Brief separations, particularly where the child is with a substitute caregiver, are not significant for development.
Deprivation - Extended separations for longer than the critical period (30 months) lead to deprivation as they lose an element of care which causes harm to the child.
Intellectually - Bowlby believed that children who were deprived of maternal care for longer than the critical period would suffer retardation characterised with a low IQ. Goldfarb (1947) found that children who stayed in an institution had a lower IQ.
Emotionally - Bowlby identified affectionless psychopathy as an inability to experience guilt and strong emotions and lack remorse. This prevents a person from developing normal relationships and is associated with criminality.
Bowbly's 44 thieves study
This study examined the link between affectionless psychopathy and maternal deprivation.
88 children from the London Child guidance clinic (44 juvenile thieves and 44 controls) were assessed using interviews, case histories and psychological testing. Mental tests were conducted on intelligence as well. These reports were given to Bowlby and then he interviewed the child and mother.
Thieves - 2 were diagnosed as "normal". 14 were diagnosed as affectionless - lacking affection, warmth and feelings towards others. They lied, stole, and had no sense of loyalty or friendship. 17 had suffered periods of separation for more than 6 months before the age of 6 and 12 of these 17 were categorised as affectionless. Therefore, 12 out of 14 (86%) affectionless thieves had experienced deprivation.
Control - None were affectionless, but most were depressed. 2 of them had experienced separation for more than 6 months before they were 6.
Evaluation of Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivat
- Evidence is poor
Bowlby drew on numerous sources of evidence for maternal deprivation including studies of children orphaned during WW2 and of course his 44 thieves study. However, War-orphans were traumatised and often had poor after-care, therefore these factors might have been the causes of later development difficulties rather than separation. Similarly, children growing up in poor quality institutions were deprived of many aspects of care, not just maternal care. So, the 44 thieved study is biased as Bowlby himself carried out the assessments for affectionless psychopathy and the family interviews, knowing what he hoped to find.
Lewis (1954) partially replicated the 44 thieves study on a larger scale, looking at 500 young people. In her sample, a history of early prolonged separation from the mother did not predict criminality or difficulty forming close relationships. This suggests that other factors may affect the outcome of early maternal deprivation.
+ Animal studies show the effects of maternal deprivation.
Some psychologists support for the idea that maternal deprivation can have long-term effects. Levy et al (2003) showed that separating baby rats from their mother for as little as a day had a permanent effect on their social development though not other aspects of development.
Romanian orphan study
In Romania in the 1990s, the former president required all women to have 5 children. Many parents couldn't afford to keep their children and the children ended up orphans. Many of these orphans were then adopted by British parents.
Rutter's ERA study
Procedure - Rutter et al. (2011) followed a group of 165 Romanian orphans adopted in Britain to test if good care could make up for early experiences in institutions. Physical, cognitive and emotional development was assessed at ages 4,6,11 and 15 years. 52 British children adopted at the same time were also followed and served a control group.
Findings - When they first arrived in the UK half the adoptees showed signs of delayed intellectual development and the majority were severely undernourished. At age 11 the children showed different rates of recovery that were related to their age of adoption. The mean IQ of those adopted before the age of 6 months was 102, compared with 86 for those adopted between 6 months and 2 years and 77 for those adopted after 2 years. Differences remained until 16. Those children adopted after they were 6 months showed signs of a particular attachment style called disinhibited attachment. Symptoms include attention seeking, clinginess and social behaviour directed indiscriminately towards all adults, both familiar and unfamiliar. For those adopted before 6 months, they rarely showed disinhibited attachment.
Bucharest early intervention project
Zeanah at al. (2005) assessed attachment in 95 children aged 12-31 months who had spent most of their lives in institutional care. They were compared to a control group of 50 children who had never lived in an institution. Their attachment type was assessed using the strange situation and carers were asked about unusual anti-social behaviours like clinginess or attention seeking.
74% of the control group and 19% of the institutional group were securely attached. 65% of the institutional group were classified with disorganised attachment.
Effects of institutionalisation
This is a typical effect of spending time in an institution. They are friendly to everyone and show no stranger anxiety. Rutter explained this as an adaptation to living with multiple caregivers during the sensitive period. In poor quality institutions, like Romanian children were, they may have had 50 carers and formed no secure attachments with any of them.
In Rutter's study, most children showed signs of retardation however, most of those adopted before six months caught up with the control by 4 years old. This suggests damage to intellectual development from institutionalisation can be recovered provided adoption takes place before six months.
Evaluation of orphan studies
+ Real life application
Studying orphans has widened our understanding of the effects of institutionalisation which has led to improvements in the way children are cared for in these institutions. They now avoid having large numbers of caregivers for each child and instead ensure the child only has a couple to play the central role - Keyworker. Having a key worker means children are able to form normal attachments and help avoid disinhibited attachment.
- Lack generalisability
It is possible that the conditions in the Romanian orphan institutions were so bad that the results can't be applied to situations where children experience deprivation. They had particularly poor care and low levels of intellectual stimulation. This is a limitation of the Romanian orphan studies because the unusual situational variables can't be generalised to other orphan studies.
+ High internal validity
Because the orphans were abandoned to the institution when they were born, they would have not experienced any trauma (confounding variables). This means that Rutter could investigate the effects of institutionalisation on intellectual development and attachment type in isolation. This means Rutter was certain the type of care directly impacted their development.
Attachment and later relationships
Internal working model - Bowlby suggested that a child having their first relationship with their primary caregiver forms a mental representation of relationships. This internal model acts as a template for future relationships. A child whose first experience is of a loving relationship with a reliable caregiver will assume this is how all relationships are meant to be and seek out a relationship similar. A child with a bad experience of their first attachment will use these bad experiences in later relationships which may cause them to not behave appropriately (Type A&C behaviours) when they are in one or struggle to form a relationship at all.
Later childhood - Attachment type is associated with the quality of peer relationships in childhood. Securely attached children tend to form quality relationships with peers whereas insecurely attached infants have friendship difficulties. Bullying behaviour can be associated with attachment type. Myron-Wilson and Smith (1998) used questionnaires from 196 children aged 7-11 from London to investigate this. They found secure children were very unlikely to be involved in bullying. Insecure-resistant children were most likely to be the bullies and insecure-avoidant children were most likely to be the victims.
Relationships in adulthood
McCarthy (1999) studied 40 adult women who had been assessed when they were infants for attachment type. Those who were assessed as securely attached had the best adult friendships and romantic relationships. Adults classified as insecure-resistant had problems maintaining friendships and adults classified as insecure-avoidant had trouble being intimate in romantic relationships.
Hazan and Shaver (1987) analysed 620 replies to a 'love quiz' printed in an American newspaper. Procedure - The first section assessed the respondents most important relationship, the second assessed general love experiences (such as the number of partners) and the third assessed attachment type by asking respondents to choose which statements described their feelings.
Findings - 56% of respondents were identified as securely attached, 25% insecure-avoidant and 19% insecure-resistant. Those reporting secure attachments were most likely to have good and long-lasting romantic relationships. The avoidant respondents revealed jealousy and fear of intimacy. These findings suggest patterns of attachment behaviour reflect in romantic relationships.
Relationships in adulthood as a parent - The internal working model also affects parenting ability. People tend to base their parenting style on their internal working model, so attachment type tends to be passed on through generations. Bailey et al. (2007) considered the attachments of 99 mothers to their babies and to their own mothers and the strange situation assessed mother-baby attachment. The majority of these women had the same attachment classifications to their own babies and their own mothers.
Evaluation of attachment in later relationships
- Issues with validity
Interviews and questionnaires are often used to study infant-parent attachment. Assessments using self-report techniques are limited because they depend on respondents being honest and having a realistic view of their own relationships. Also, a lot of the questions are retrospective which rely on looking back in adulthood at early relationships to primary caregivers. This lacks validity because it relies on accurate recollections.
- Only association
The infant's attachment type might not affect them later in life. A third environmental factor such as parenting style might have a direct effect on both attachment and the child's ability to form relationships with others. Alternatively, the child's temperament may influence both infant attachment and the quality of later relationships. This is a limitation because it is counter to Bowlby's view that the internal working model caused these later outcomes.
- Self-report is conscious but internal working models are not
Internal working models are unconscious; we are not directly aware of their influence on us. We would not expect to get direct evidence about them by means of interviews or questionnaires because people can only self-report what they are aware of. When participants self-report on their relationships they are relying on their conscious understanding of those relationships. At best the self-report gives us indirect evidence about internal working models.