Attachment Year 12 Mock revision

  • Created by: msahay
  • Created on: 31-05-19 21:59


concerns the effects upon attahcments of care provided by orphanages and residential children's homes. 

Institutional care creates distinctive attachment behaviour in children:

  • mix of privation and deprivation effects
  • disinhibited attachment - clingy, attention seeking, indiscriminate sociability to adults. Rutter found that the multiple carers led to this kind of attachment. 
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Romanian Orphan Studies

AIM: assess whether loving and nurturing care could overturn the privation effects of Romanian orphanages. 


Rutter studied around 111 Romanian orphans that had been placed there aged 1-2 weeks, with minimal adult contact. 

58 babies were adopted before 6 months 

59 babies were adopted between 6 months and 2 years 

48 babies were adopted between 2 and 4 years. 

They were assessed at ages, 4, 6, 11 and then 21 years later. 

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Romanian Orphan Studies: FINDINGS

At the age which they were adopted, the Romanian orphans scored worse than the British control group on measures of social, cognitive and physical development. 

By age 4, gap had been reduced - particularly for children adopted before the age of 6 months. They showed normal development. 

Follow-up studies indicate that many of those adopted after 6 months, showed disinhibited attachment behaviour e.g. attention-seeking behaviour towards adults, inappropriate physical contact and poor peer relations. However, 20% showed normal functioning which suggests that specific negative effects of institutionalisation will not occur in all children. 

In general, studies indicate that if institutionalised children have an early chance to form attachments, the initial negative effects of institutionalisation can be reversed which goes against Bowlby's fatalistic MDH view that permanent damage will occur if attachment bonds are broken or not formed. 

However, if there is a long term failure to form attachment, negative consequences are more likely to be severe - supporting Bowlby's idea of a critical period in which attachment must take place to avoid adverse effects later on. 

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Bowlby's Montotropic Theory

the idea that infants have an inbuilt tendency to make an initial attachment with one attachment figure, usually the mother. 

Bowlby expressed the importance of infants having one primary attachment figure (monotropy), usually the mother, that is the strongest and most unique attachment bond.

This primary attachment figure acts as a secure base for exploration and a template for future relationships (internal working model) e.g. a secure attachment with the mother is more likely to result in later relationships with friends to be positive. Thus, there is a continuation (continuity hypothesis) of the relationship with the maternal figure in later relationships. 

Critical period - attachment must be formed from the age of 0-2.5 years. If infants do not form an attachment during this time, they will have great difficulty forming relationships with others in later life. 

Infants are innately programmed to form attachments because it increases survival chances. Infant produces social releaser behaviours (e.g. crying) that elicit caregiving from adults (e.g. feeding and protection). Therefore, infants are biologically programmed to form attachment bonds as it has an evolutionary purpose. 

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Bowlby's Montotropic Theory Evaluation

Tronick studied the Efe people of Zaire who live in extended family groups and found that even though infants were looked after by several different women, the infants showed one primary attachment to their mother. This research evidence supports Bowlby's theory of monotropic attachment even in a community with different child-rearing practices. 

Harlow found that monkeys with access to the unresponsive wire cloth mother were were aggressive, antisocial and had issues with mating and parenting as adults. This emotional and social maladjustment in the monkeys due to not forming a proper monotropic attachment, provides research support for the internal working model componenent of the theory. (However, this is an animal study)

Kagan's temperament hypothesis is based on findings that suggest innate personality characteristics of an infant influences the quality of their future attachment. This alternative explanation suggests that attachments form as a result of natural temperament, challenging the idea of evolutionary programming in infants that Bowlby proposes

Monotropy is social sensitive - has a negative impact on mothers and fathers. Puts pressure on mothers to be the primary attachment figure for their children and underestimates father's role. This can be used as a real-life application of the monotropic theory in politics. (talk about far right/scientific proof etc)... also mention Schaffer + Emerson 


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explanation of what happens when attachment bonds are broken. 

Bowlby believed that disruption of attachment bond results in serious and permanent damage to a child's social, emotional, psychological and intellectual development. 

SEPARATION - short-term disruption of an attachment bond e.g. being left with babysitter

  • Protest - expression of child's fear, anger + confusion e.g. crying, screaming, clinging
  • Despair - apathetic behaviour e.g. child comforts itself by thumb sucking
  • Detachment - treats people warily, rejects caregiver on reunion

Douglas found that separation for children under 4 years was correlated with behahavioural difficulties. This supports Bowlby's predictions of maladjustment in the maternal deprivation hypothesis. 

However, evidence linking separation to negative consequences is mostly correlational and does not necessarily show a cause and effect relationship. 


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long-term disruption of an attachment bond e.g. the primary attachment figure passes away or divorce

Furstenberg + Kiernan - children experiencing divorce scored lower than children in first-marriage families on social, emotional, educational and physical measures. Demonstrates that deprivation due to divorce has wide-ranging negative consequences in line with Bowlby's MDH. 

Schaffer found that only 25% of children that experience divorce have long-term adjustment problems and most children of divorced households have normal development. This suggests that negative consequences of deprivation are short-term rather than permanent, weakening Bowlby's MDH.

Some children develop better attachments after deprivation due to divorce as the environment of marital conflict is removed and parents become more supportive to children after divorce. This suggests that outcomes of deprivation are not necessarily always adverse on children. 

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when a child never forms an attachment e.g. the child has a series of different carers

Bowlby believed that privation effects were irreversible and more likely than deprivation to lead to lasting damage. 

Curtis and Rymer reported on Genie, a girl that was denied human interaction, beated and confined. She could not stand or speak. After years of therapy, she developed some language abilities. Genie deteriorated physically and mentally after being returned to her mother. This damage demonstrates the irreversible effects of privation, supporting Bowlby's predictions. 

However, Genie's cognitive deficits could be due to lack of intellectual stimulation, not the lack of attachment bond. Also, case studies are dependent on memories that may be inaccurate, therefore, there is no way of knowing what happened to privated individuals before discovery, and thus limits researchers investigating the effects of never having formed an attachment. 

The Bulldog Bank children are an example of privated individuals that were able to recover  and lead successful relationships. Negative effects of privation are not necessarily irreversible as these children had positive attachments later on, weakening Bowlby's MDH. 

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Attachment influence on childhood relations

Internal working model - early attachment with primary attachment figure forms a template for future relationships. 

Continuity hypothesis - early attachment experiences are consistent with later relationships. 


Continuity between early attachment experience and childhood relationships. 

Laible found that in late childhood, children transfer attachment behaviours learnt in early childhood to social situations and peer groups. This supports the idea of continuity from early attachments. 

Attachments formed between infants and attachment figures have a large influence in determining the infants' childhood relationships. Those who are securely attached seem to have better social abilities. However, seeing the quality of later relationships as only caused by early attachment experience is rather deterministic. 

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Attachment influence on adult relations

Continuity between childhood attachment types and quality of later adult relationships, but not all research supports this. Those who fail to make a secure childhood attachment can still develop secure relationships as adults. 

Hazan and Shaver - a study testing the internal working model

Hazan used a "love quiz" which measured individuals' attachment types as children and current attitudes towards love and romantic relationships on over 600 American males and female adults. 


Adults who were securely attached as children tended to have happy, lasting relationshipsAdults who were insecurely attached as children found relationships more difficult, tended to divorce and believed that love was rare. 

This supports the idea that there is continuity between early attachment types and the quality of later adult romantic relationships. Parenting styles create an internal working model that influences attachment type which in turn has influence on people's adult relationships. 

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Hazan and Shaver Evaluation

Hazan's study had a large sample which increases population validity. However, since the sample was only American, it measures only Western-style relationships and suffers from ethnocentrism. 

Study was subject to demand characteristics - participants gave socially desirable answers e.g. exaggerating how positive their relationships really are. Lowers internal validity. 

It is deterministic to assume that adult relationships are dictated by our childhood attachment experiences. Despite a lack of continuity, insecurely attached children still go on to have positive relationships as adults. 

Harlow's monkey study supports Hazan and Shaver - the monkeys were raised to be insecurely attached and became poor parents themselves. 

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