Attachment - The role of the Father

  • Created by: eball2604
  • Created on: 06-05-18 12:34

Attachment Figures

Parent-infant attachment

Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found babies first attachment is to their mothers

75% of infants formed an attachment with the father by 18 months - determined by seperation anxiety

Role of the Father

Grossman (2002) longitudinal study looking at both parents behaviour and how this infleunced the quailty of attachment in the childs teens

- quality of mothers attachment was related to childs attchments at teen stage suggesting fathers attachment wasnt as important

- fathers play role was related to quality of attachment - suggests they have more to do with play and stimulation than nurturing

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Fathers as primary carers

Evidence to suggest when fathers take on role of main caregiver, they adopt traits more typical of the mother

- Field (1978) filmed babies interaction with primary mothers, secondary fathers and primary fathers

- Primary mothers and father spent more time smiling, iminating and holding infant

This behaviour appears to be important in developing an attachment with the infant.

Key to attachment relationship is level of responsiveness rather than gender of parent.

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Point - Inconsistent findings on fathers

Evidence - some psychologists are interested in the research question of fathers as secondary caregivers whilst other are interested in the father role as a primary caregiver. Former see fathers as behaving differently from mothers and having a distinct role, latter see fathers as being able to take on a 'maternal' role

Therefore... we can not answer the question 'what is the role of the father?'.

However... Grossman (2002) founds fathers as secondary attachment figures important in childs developement but other studies have dounf children growing up in single or same-sex families are no different from other children

This suggests that the fathers role as a secondary attachment figure is not important to development and we shoud focus on fathers who are primary caregivers

Therefore, these inconsident findings are a limitation of research into the role of the father

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Point - research evidence suggets fathers are not to provide a sensitive and nurturing attachment

Evidence - Hrdy (1999) found fathers were less able to detect low levels of infant distress, in comparison to mothers. These results support the biological explanations that lack of oestrogen means fathers are not equipped to form close attachments with their children.

This suggests... that the role of the father is biologically determined and his role is restricted due to his biological makeup. A soft determenistic view would be most appropriate

Therefore, this provides evidence that fathers are not able to provide a sensitive and nurturing type of attachment as they can not detect stress in their child. 

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Point - research to sugget that they can form secure attachments with their child if they are in an intimate marriage

Evidence - Belsky et al (2009) found males reporting higher levels of matrital intimacy displayed secure father-infant attachment

This suggests... males can form secure attchments with their children but the strength of the attachment depends on father and mother relationship

Therefore... the father can have a role in the devlopment of their child. 

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