explanations of attachment, including learning theory & bowlby one.types of attachement, including insecure & secure & studies by Ainsworth. cultural variations in attachment. disruption of attachment, failure to form attachment (privation) & effects of instituional care

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definition :an emotional tie/ relationship between 2 people shown in their behaviour

Attachment is developed between 2 people from birth. A young baby is helpless & is reliant upon other people to survive, usually it is the biological parents that are the attachment figure & it is the 1st relationship that ensures the baby's survival. These attachments can be multiple ie with parents, grandparents, child-carers & anyone in the extended family / foster parents/ adoptive parents.

There is a difference between the terms attachment and bond

A bond is a set of feeling thats ties 1 person to another; e.g a parent often feels strangely bonded with their newborn baby

An attachment is different. It involves an emotional link between both parent & baby which ties them together- this can of course be caregiver & child etc.

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How do we know an attachment has taken place?

Most people are interested in the 1st attachment between mother & child. The child hopefully will continue to have attachments throughout their lives with family, friends & partners.

All of this attachment behaviour will form the basis of future relationships. Maccoby 1980 argued that we can see that 2 people have an attachment by looking at their behaviours.

  • Seeking proximity: the 2 people who have an attachment want to be near to each other & spend time together. A young baby will try maintain proximity to the caregiver by watching them carefully, and howling when they go too far away. An older, more mobile baby will simply crawl after their attachment figure in hot pursuit!
  • Joy on reunion: the baby will welcome back their attachment figure often by clinging to them & hugging them even when they have only be gone for 5 minutes
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Maccoby 1980

  • General orientation of behaviour towards the other person: both the baby & caregiver direct their attention to each other & try to engage each other in activities & interaction.

These attachment behaviours can also be seen in older people who have an attachment. Although adults have more sophisticated ways of maintaining proximity e.g texting; the underling need to stay in touch is same

Distress on separation & joy on reunion can be seen on any railway station Platform as can general orientation of an attached couple to each other.

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How do human babies develop attachments?

The ethologist Conrad Lorenz noticed that newborn orphaned animals form attachments to any animal that happened to be present as if it was their real mother. This can often be seen on farms where lambs attach themselves to the person that bottle feeds them & follows them happily around until they are larger sheep.

In the 1930's Lorenz carried out a series of studies with geese and in 1 study he divided a batch of goose eggs randomly into 2 groups. He place 1 lot under their mother to hatch & the other into an incubator. L ensured he was the 1st large moving object seen by the incubator goslings when they hatched. He found that the goslings formed a rapid attachment to him & would follow him around as if he were their mother. A short time after, L put all the goslings together again in a container & then released them. They separated out rapidly into the same 2 groups.

From this L developed the whole idea of imprinting this is the tendency to form an attachment to the 1st large moving object seen after birth. In later studies he found that imprinting takes place between 13-16 hours, after hatching, & by the time they reached 32 hours the tendency to imprint has past (critical period)

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Klaus & Kennel 1976 (north america) study

Klaus & Kennel 1976 (north America) study

They tested the hypothesis that early skin-to-skin contact led to closer bonds between mothers & babies. Previously babies would have been separated & placed into nursery units.

  • they took 2 groups of young mums & followed them from birth till their child was 1 years old.
  • The control group had routine contact; ie they saw their mother for their feeds
  • The experimental group had extended contact an extra hour of skin-to-skin contact after birthday & extra 5 hours over next 3 days
  • Outcome: Klaus & Kennel visited the mothers & their babies after 1 month & again after a year. They found a variety of differences in the behaviour of the routine & extended contact babies
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Klaus & Kennel 1976 (north america) study

 The extended contact babies ->

  • showed more soothing behaviours such as cuddling their babies when they were given a routine medical examination
  • Maintained closer proximity to their babies & gazed out their babies more than the routine group

K&K concluded that these behaviours seemed to indicate that the mothers formed closer bonds which produced noticeable differences in the closeness of the relationships up to a year after birth.

This study indicated that there must be a special time/ sensitive period immediately after birth, that may be important for binding to occur, & this study led to change in hospital practises of keeping mums with their babies & having the fathers present at birth.

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Klaus & Kennel 1976 (north america) study


this study was carried out with 2 groups of unmarried mothers this might of meant closer bonds shown by the mums.

Also the mums were being given extra attention in the experiment which might have resulted in the improved bonding with their child rather than just the effects of more time with their babies.

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De Chatu et al 1987 (swedish) study

De Chatu et al 1987 (swedish) study

  • Carried out a similar to study using 42 middle-class Swedish mothers & their babies
  • 20 were given routine contact and 22 extended
  • They found that the extended group held their babies more and gazed at them. At 36 hours after birth and 3 months the babies showed more laughing & smiling than a routine who cried more.
  • This implies that the differences seen in the original K&K study is not due to specific group but that early skin-to-skin contact can indeed create the formation of bonds between mothers & their babies.
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The sensitive period

The sensitive period is a period of time in which something is likely to occur, for example young children are likely to start talking around 12-18 months. however development can take place outside this period as we can see in studies of older children who have been brought up in isolation but develop language later in childhood

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Schaffer & Emerson 1964

 Aim: looked out gradual development of attachments, they studied 60 babies in Glasgow

Procedure: they visited the babies monthly for the 1st year & returning again at 18 months, they gathered data on 2 different types of behaviours

  • separation on anxiety-> if baby showed a anxiety/ distress when caregiver left them, it indicates that the baby has formed an attachment to the person.
  • strange distress-> if baby shows signs of distress when approached by someone who they don't know, shows that baby can recognise familiar people & feels anxious with the unfamiliar

They would see if baby cried, interviewed mother's & asked if babies behaviour was unusual

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Schaffer & Emerson 1964

When does attachment take place?

S&E found that attachment behaviours developed in stages where were loosely linked to age. Most babies start to show separation anxiety from their attachment figure at around 25-32 weeks (6-8 months) indicating that an attachment had been made. After the 1st attachment was formed many made multiple attachments

To whom do babies form their first attachments?

For most babies, 65%, the 1st was their mother. This finding probably reflects the period when the study was carried out in which most child-rearing involved mothers who stayed home. By the same token, fathers were unlikely to be the 1st attachment figure,3%.Just over quarter formed their 1st relationship as joint attachments at same time, mum & dad. Babies did not necessarily form their attachment to the person who carried out most of the physical care e.g feeding, in almost 40% the person who cared for the child was not the 1st attachment figure.

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Schaffer & Emerson 1964

Methodological issues

  • S&E used a variety of methods of data collection; including observation & interview. these methods provide data that is in detail. This use of different methods to study the same issue is known as triangulation
  • Babies were observed by the researchers in their own homes & mothers were asked to rate their babies' response to separation in a wide range of everyday situations. Both of these measurements make the study high in ecological validity
  • this study has provided valuable info about the processes by which attachments are formed. they reflect child-rearing in mid 1960's, nowadays fathers are far more likely to be 1st attachment figure as larger role

Ethical issues

  • as the research took place in the babies' own homes, the situation was relatively unstressful for the babies & mums. this is important as researchers should ensure that minimal psychological harm occurs.
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Schaffer & Emerson 1964

S&E's findings indicate that attachments take longer to form in human babies than in mobile species of animals.

Associal stage (0-6 weeks)- babies produce similar responses to objects & people & do not prefer specific people to others. the have a bias towards human-like stimuli & prefer to look at faces & eyes. They rapidly learn to discriminate familiar people from unfamiliar by their smell & voice

Indiscriminate attachments (6 week-6month)-babies become more sociable,they can tell people apart & prefer human company. they are relatively easily comforted by anyone & do not prefer specific individuals yet. they show no fear to strangers

Specific attachments (7 month onwards)- 2 changes take place. the baby begins to show separation anxiety , protesting when their primary attachment figure leaves them & fear to strangers

Multiple attachments (10/11 month onwards)- Soon follow after 1st made.

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Explanations of attachment. explanation 1 LEARNING

This takes the view that attachment is a learned process (NURTURE)

Learning theory is he view put forward by the behaviourist psychologists to explain how all behaviour is acquired using the principles of conditioning:-

Classical conditioning Dogs salivate when they feed. Salivation is an unconditional response to an unconditional stimulus- they are innately linked responses. If a bell is rung every time food appears, the animal will come to associate the bell with food so the bell alone will produce the unconditional response. The bell was a neutral stimulus but is now a conditioned stimulus & the salivation is now a conditioned response. The animal has learned a new stimulus response link (Pavlov)

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Explanations of attachment. explanation 1 LEARNING

An adaptation of this is based on operant conditioning- the baby requires food & enters a drive state which motivates it to find food. The infant will cry until its needs are fulfilled & feels comfortable & rewarded with food. The child realises the person supplying the food becomes a source of reward and the infant becomes attached.

This theory is based upon emperical evidence i.e lab experiments

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Does evidence support the learning account of atta

there is a strong body of evidence from human babies & studies or primates to suggest that attachment is not based on feeding.

Schaffer & Emerson 1964 showed that the 1st attachment formed by 39% of babies was not the person who carried out the physical care, such as feeding. Attachments are more likely to be formed to those who are sensitive & rewarding to the baby & play with them.

Primate studies also said this theory. Mary & Harry Harlow 1958 and Harlow & Zimmerman 1959 did a series of experiments using young rhesus monkeys. They studied 8 infant monkeys who were reared in isolation & deprived of their real mums until they were 8 months.In each cage there were 2 'surrogate' mothers, 1 made from wire with a monkey like face & a identical 'mum' covered with soft, towelling fabric. A feeding bottle with milk was attached to the 'wire mum' & the Harlows measured the amount of time the baby monkeys spent clinging to each mother.

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Does evidence support the learning account of atta

They checked to see if an attachment had been formed by putting a noisy mechanical toy in the cage to frighten the monkeys & see what 'mum' they clung to. The Harlows found that the baby monkeys used the soft mum as their base, returning to her for comfort when scared & only visit wire mum to feed.Although this is clearly an animal study & therefore cannot be directly generalised to humans it provides strong evidence to suggest there is more to attachment than food & rewards.

The explanation ignores the considerable evidence to instinctive aspects of attachment considered by Bowlby theory

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Social learning explanation for developmement of a

Hay & Vespo 1988 aims to develop the learning explanation to include an element of social learning in attachment. The theory made by Bandura 1977 argues that children  (&adults) learn many of their behaviours through observation & limitation of the behaviour of other people who act as role models. H&V argue that parents act as role models for their infants & teach them how to understand & carry out relationships by their own actions of looking after the child. It involves:

  • Role modelling:the parents show the child a range of affectionate behaviours e.g cuddles
  • Direct instruction: parents teach child to reciprocate affection e.g give me a kiss goodbye
  • Social facilitation: parents watch & help the child to carry out attachment behaviours e.g play with friends
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Social learning explanation evaluation

  • takes into account the importance of parents as role models for their children. clearly parents are very important in teaching their children about how to love & be loved. continuity hypothesis
  • H&V do not den the importance of innate influences to attachment but draw attention instead to the importance of social influences on the development of attachment behaviours.
  • the theory does not explain why attachments are so emotionally intense for both people involved
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Explanations of attachment. explanation 2 BOWLBY T

This takes the view that attachment is an evolved mechanism that ensures the survival of the child. Such a characteristic helps individuals who posses that characteristic to survive & reproduce.

An infant is helpless & needs adults to feed, care & protects them; without assistance they cannot survive. Attachment serves to increase their chance of survival & because attachment is a reciprocal process, it is also likely that adults are innately programmed to become attached to their infants. Being attached has long term benefits in addition to the short-term benefit of ensuring food & safety- it also provide a template for future relationshipss.

These short & long term effects of attachment are similar to the effects of imprinting as seen in Lorenz's work 1937 with geese who are likely to imprint on the 1st moving object they see.

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Explanations of attachment. explanation 2 BOWLBY T

There are 3 important features of Bowlby's Theory:-

  • Infants & carers are programmed to become attached
  • As attachment is a biological process, it take place during a critical period of development (sensitive period) or not at all
  • Attachment plays a role in later development monotrophy and the continuity hypothesis (early attachment behaviour has influence on future ones)

Bowlby believed that any inherited behaviour that increases an individual's chances of survival & reproduction will be passed onto the next generation-it has been selected due its usefulness.

The result is in the case of attachment that infants are born programmed to become attached & adults are also programmed to form this kind of relationship with their infants

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Explanations of attachment. explanation 2 BOWLBY T

Babies will elicit the behaviour of smiling, crying - all innate behaviours & the adults respond as care-givers. They are critical behaviours in the process of forming attachments

This theory is based on observation of human behaviour.

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Outline of Bowlby theory

John Bowlby in the 40's argues that attachment was an inmate/ instinctive mechanism which ensured young babies & children formed attachment,

There were 3 influences which helps to develop his theory:

  • the 1st was to do with the child instinctively crying & smiling to encourage the caregiver to respond and that parents especially mothers possessed instincts to protect & nurture their child
  • He gave the idea of monotropy which is a single attachment to 1 person who is important to the baby- bowlby felt it was the mother, which proved controversial.
  • Thirdly, he developed from Frued the idea that the mother & child relationship was the most important for future relationships & that it is the 1st attachment between mum & child that provided the internal working model or template for future relationships.
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Outline of Bowlby theory

Internal working model-> a template for future relationships including a model of how you & other people are likely to behave. this is refereed to the as the continuity hypothesis. Bowlby also drew on work from Harlow with the rhesus monkeys who were showing importance of mother-figure providing comfort & security for infant, this concept he developed into the idea of 'safe-base'

  • Bowlby also believed that there is a sensitive period during which the 1st 3 years of the child's life where the process of attachment happens (developed from the work of  Lorenz) & Bowlby from his research with troubled adolescents believed that attachment had been disrupted/ broken before the age of 3 would bring about serious consequences in a child's behaviour.
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Evaluate Bowlby theory

This theory had a dramatic impact on ideas of how babies should be looked after & also the importance of the mothers role,there have been many studies to support the idea that the types of relationships that people have later on in their lives will be influenced by the 1st relationship with caregivers.

Hazan &Shaver 1987 found out love in adulthood relates to the attachment type as a child by using the love quiz to gain data about their current/ previous romantic feelings by matching to 1 of 3 descriptions & also finding out about the childhood relationships through adjective check-list, this supports the theory of continuity

Black & Schute 2006 found there was a link between childhood & adult relationships by using 205 young adults to do 3 measures to asses both childhood & adult attachment, 1st by an interview about their feelings for previous/ current relationship, a list of adjectives to describe their childhood relationship with both parents & description of childhood event which provided rich, qualitative data illustrating their relationship with parents this also supports Bowlby continuity theory

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Evaluate Bowlby theory

Not all studies show support for Bowlby's continuity hypothesis & have pointed to the importance of other influences on relationships other than those in early childhood. Zimmerman 2000 did a longitudinal study of 44 children in Germany, their attachment type was initially assessed between 12-18 months of age by seeing their response to separation & strangers, they were reassessed at 16 using interviews to see their relationship with parents. And to also record life events such as divorce/ death that occurred during childhood. they found childhood attachment type was not a good predictor of attachment in teens, divorce was very important. this study suggests continuity only applies when serious life events do not impact the kid

Mainand Goldwynn 1984 argued that even those who had hard childhoods had gone to develop positive & secure relationship in adulthood which is earned security, due to positive school experience / strong adult attachment which have led them to develop feelings & security and trust later in their lives.

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Evaluate Bowlby theory

Rutter and Quintan in 1988 found that women who had a range of difficult early relationships developed security if they had positive school experiences & strong adult relationships later in life.

One of the major criticisms in relation to Bowlby is that his theory relates to solely the significance of the mother figure in attachment but Shaver & Emersion study in Glasgow that babies found multiple attachments & at about  7 months 29% had multiple attachments, by 10 59%, by 18 87%. The strongest bond was not necessarily to the mother figure & a 1/3 was strongly attached to the father.

Bowlby focused predominately on the attachment between mum & child & overlooked the importance of dad & siblings.  Ross 1975 indicates that fathers are just as important in their own right & very involved in child rearing. Lamb 1983 notes that fathers are often preferred as playmates to mothers due to their unpredictability.

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Evaluate Bowlby theory

Bowlby theory ignores siblings, which others considered very important.Schaffer 1996 distinguishes between vertical relationships the child has with those who older & powerful e.g parents & teachers. & horizontal relationships who has similar level of power e.g peers/ siblings. Bee in 1995 noted the different kids of attachment between siblings such as buddies often pair of sisters who try be like each other & enjoy each others company & caregiver where an older siblings takes care of a younger one, often behaving in a quasi-parental way. Bowlby emphasis on the relationship between mum & baby led to these important attachments being ignored.

Bowlby's ideas about the importance of attachments have produced substantial amounts of research, most evidence suggests that early attachment affect future. However it is important not to overestimate this & to consider other factors such as later life events, which influences adult relationships. Bowlby's ideas regarding monotropy has been challenged & evidence supports the view that multiple attachments may be the rule rather singe & unique attachments.

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Haazan& Shaver 1987 study

aim: to find out if love in adulthood directly related to the attachment type as a child

procedure: (questionnaire) To carry out a 'love quiz' in the Rocky Mountain news asking people to write in about their experiences about 2 things.1. which of the 3 descriptions best applied to their feelings about romantic relationships. 2.a simple adjective check-list which described their childhood relationship with their parents. H&S tested 2 separate groups of people 215 men & 415 women. the 2nd group was 108 undergraduates.

result: they found a strong relationship between childhood attachment types & adult attachment types e.g secure ones expressed belief in lasting love, anxious avoidant types were doubtful about love, anxious ambivalent fell in love easily but rarely found true love.

conculsion: love in adulthood is directly related to the attachment type

evaluation: supports Bowlby continuity theory, deception occurred, could be lies, bias sample group not representative

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Black & Schute 2006

aim: to find out if there was a link between childhood & adult relationships.

procedure:Used 205 young adults to complete 3 measures to asses childhood & adult attachment types: 

  • an 'adult attachment' interview which measured their feelings about current & previous adult relationships.
  • a list of adjectives that described childhood relationships with both parents
  • a description of childhood events & incidents e.g birthday parties/ xmas that illustrated their relationship with parents (rich, qualitative data)

result: link between types of childhood  adult relationships as Bowlby said. those who recalled positive & love relationships with mums were more trusting & likely to open up to their partners & seek comfort from them. those who had positive relationships with dad more likely to rely on parents

conculsion: there is a link between childhood & adult relationships.

evaluation: supports Bowlby continuity theory

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Research study by Mary Ainsworth 1970

The strange situation is a method of assessing how securely, or insecurely, an infant is attached to its caretaker. In terms of the kind of method used, it can be best described as a structured observation. it takes place in lab with a set arrangement of attractive toys & furniture.the infants have to be mobile & the assessment is typically made with infants between 12-18 months of age. The procedure aims to record the organisation of attachment behaviour, rather than to measure the amount of attachment.

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the strange situation procedure by Mary Ainsworth

1. The mother & child are introduced to the room

2. The mother & child are left along & the child can investigate the toyrs

3. A stranger enters the room & talks with the mother. The stranger gradually approaches the infant with a toy.

4. The mother leaves the child alone with the stranger, & the stranger interacts with the child.

5. The mother returns to greet & comfort the child

6. The mother leaves the child with the stranger

7. The stranger tries to engage the child

8.The mother returns.

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the strange situation by Mary Ainsworth 1970

There is a detailed coding scheme to assign children to 1 of 3 categories of attachment.

In broad terms, securely attached infants (type B): tend to explore the unfamiliar room, they are subdued when the mother leaves & greet her positively when she returns. In contrast, avoidant infants (type A) do not orientate to the mother while investigating the toys & the room, they do not seem concerned by her absence, & they show little interest in her when she returns. The ambivalent infants (type C) often show intense distress particularly when the mother is absent, but the reject the mother by pushing her away,often this occurs when the mother returns.

Main & cassidy 1988 have subsequently identified a further group of children, refereed to as disorganised (type D), these children show inconsistent behaviour confusion & indecision. they also tend to freeze or show stereotyped behaviours such as rocking.

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the strange situation by Mary Ainsworth 1970

In summary, attachment is assessed in terms of 4 aspects of the infants behaviour:

  • Separation anxiety- this is the unease the child shows when left by their caregiver
  • The infants' willingness to explore- it is assumed that a more securely attached child will explore more widely
  • Stranger anxiety- security of attachment is assumed to be related to greater stranger anxiety
  • Reunion behaviour- insecurely attached children often greet their caregiver's return by ignoring them or behaving ambivalently.
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the ** evaluation

The Strange Situation has produced evidence that certain children are secure or insecure, either as a result of their caregivers responsivene** or their innate responsivene**. However, there is is one main objection to the evidence from the **. it is a**umed in the ** that the behaviour being tested as in some way a characteristic of the child. it may only be a characteristic of the relationship being tested. research has shown that children can have different attachment cla**ifications with different parents e.g they may be cla**ified as having a secure attachment to their mother & avoidant relationship with their father. Lamb 1977. This suggests that the attachment cla**ification is not simply a matter of a child's character. if it were, than the child should have the same relationship with the mother & father. This causes problems when we claim to correlate early attachment type with later behaviour. we may in fact be correlating 1 early relationship type with later behaviour, which is ok if that relationship if that relationship was the most significant influence on that child's emotional development.

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the ** evaluation

This is the problem with drawing conclusions from correlational evidence - we cannot be certain that A (attachment relationship) causes B (later behaviour). there may well be several intervening variables, such as early emotional experiences of the infant. Or it may be that some children are simply good at forming relationships, which could explain why they have formed a secure early relationship with their caregiver & also why they tend to do well later in life.

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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

The study by Mary Ainsworth set out to discover whether there were/ are differences in the levels of attachment between the main caregiver & the child. She set out to see if the infants behaviour in a variety of situations including the departure of the mother, whether the child would show separation anxiety & whether when a stranger was introduced the child would show stranger anxiety. She also looked at how the child reacted with the mother in a strange environment. From this research she discovered 3 types of attachment & from future research a 4th was added

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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

Security Infants (type B)(70% of babies were this)

Mums are used as a safe-base so were happy to explore the room when she is there, distress (crying) when she left, welcomed back on return, settling back down to play quickly, they were wary of stranger & treated them v.differently

Insecure Avoidant (type a)

Infants are willing to explore & are unresponsive to the mothers return. they generally avoid social interaction & intimacy with others.

Insecure Resistant (type c)

This is sometimes refereed to as ambivalent. this is where infants who are less interested in exploring show distress & react on the mothers return. they seek & reject intimacy & social interaction.

Disinhibited- infants who display affection to strangers & may be attention seeking

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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

Insecure attachment develops as a result of a caregivers lack of sensitive responding to an infant's needs & it can associated with poor cognitive and emotional development

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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

Methodlogical issues

  • the method has been extremely useful tool which gives a great deal of info in a relatively short space of time about babies attachment
  • SS is easy to replicate & this has lead to vast amount of research across different cultures- it is a reliable method of carrying out observations of attachment behaviour
  • Critics claim that SS lacks validity because of the strange & unfamiliar playroom which was not in the childs home but it has similarities to some homes but not necessarily across all cultures

Ethical issue

  • The research took place in an unfamiliar enviroment  (not baby home) the departure of the mother was in a strange place & interaction with stranger could be stressful for both mum & baby (were told to stop if felt it)
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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

Ainsworth study rested entirely on the sensitivity of the mother & she believed that mother's that were sensitive to their child's needs were likely to produce babies that were securely attached in contrast with mothers who ignored their babies / who become impatient, these children were more likely to be insecure.

De Wolff and Van Ijzendoorn 1997 carried out a meta-analysis of 66 studies over 4000 families & found a correlation between sensitivity & attachment, they found a weak positive relationship but there was a definite relationship between a mother being sensitive & level of attachment

Kagan argued that Ainsworth places too much emphasis on the role of the mother & ignores the temperant of a child. Temperants are differences inbuilt in babies from birth e.g how they seek human company, how  aware & alert they are.

Meta-analysis: a procedure in which researchers draw together & analyse the results of many different studies that used a similar procedure.

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Evaluate SS by Mary Ainsworth

Thomas & Chess found 3 basic tempremant types. Easy babies, slow to warm babies & difficult babies.

The temperant hypothesis: shows that the attachment type formed by a baby may reflect their own basic temperant rather than how sensitive their caregiver is Fox 1991 found a strong relationship between both parents which support the attachment is related to inbuilt temperants.


Belsky & Rolvine 1987 argue that individual differences in attachment types may related to both the inborn temperament of the caregiver. temperaments present different types of challenged to their caregivers.

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Cultural variations in attachments

attachments do no just differ between individual babies. they may also vary systematically across cultures. this is not surprising, as people bring up their children v.differently in different parts of the world & encourage them to develop different abilities & qualities.

For example, Fox 1977 studied child-rearing practices in kibbutzim, communal farms in Israel. Here, babies are placed into communal  childcare when they are around 4 days old & cared by a nurse called metapelet. the physical aspects of childcare such as feeding & nappy changing are carried out by the nurse & the parents visit the baby to play & cuddles, typically spending about 3 hours a day with their child after work. When they are around 4 months old, babies move to another nursery for older children & continue to be reared as a group together cared for by the nurse.

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Cultural variations in attachments

This approach to child-rearing shows important differences from those to which you may be accustomed. The child is likely to have less adult attention than in a family setting & much more contact with peers of similar ages. Both if these may be important influences on their attachment type with their parents & future ones.

Because of these variations in child-rearing practices, psychologists have been interested to see how babies vary between cultures in the types of attachment behaviours they show. Many of these studies have used the strange situation devised by Mary Ainsworth.

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van ijzendoorn & kroonenberg 1988

2 dutch psychologists, carried out a meta-analysis in which they analysed the results of 32 separate studies carried out in 8 different countries using SS to look at differences in attachment types both between & within cultures.  (aim)

In total over 2000 babies were studied making this a substantial piece of research. in each of these studies babies were classed using AINSWORTH SYSTEM of type a,b,c.

results: there are large differences between cultures, which are likely to reflect the different approaches to child-rearing in different places.

  • Secure attachments (type b) were the most common form in all the cultures surveyed. the lowest proportion (50%) was in China & highest (75%) G.B & Sweden
  • Avoidant attachment (type a) were most common in West Germany than in other Western countries. rare in Israel & Japan
  • ambivalent attachment (type c) most common Israel, China, Japan. Scandinavian countries e.g Sweden has lowest rates
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van ijzendoorn & kroonenberg 1988

As well as differences between cultures, V.I & K also found differences within cultures. Their 3 studies carried out in W.Germany showed v.different findings. In the 2 Japanese studies, 1 had no type A wheras 2nd has 20%. V.I &K noted overall at the intra-cultural variations (within cultures) was nearly 1 and a half times the cross-cultural variation. this large variation within cultures demonstrates the  common-sense point that it is an over-simplification to assume that all children are brought up in exactly the same way in a particular country/ culture

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van ijzendoorn & kroonenberg 1988 evaluation

methodological issues

  • substantial meta-analysis considering the attachment behaviours of v.large no. of infants. A large sample size is needed in order to generalise findings to the rest of the population
  • however, over half (18) of the 32 studies were carried out in the U.S reflecting the dominance by America in research in this area. 27 of the studies were carried out in individualistic cultures with only 5 taking place in collectivist cultures. thus implies that the sample may not be truly representative.
  • Ainsworth's SS method of studying attachment was developed in America & may be most suited to studying attachment in this type of culture. Goldberg 2002 argues that we can only make valid interpretations of the SS in cross-cultural studies if we understand the attitudes to child-rearing in the culture.
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van ijzendoorn & kroonenberg 1988 evaluation

Ethical issues

  • as it is a meta-analysis ,it involves bringing together the results of studies which have used similar methods. this mean that there are no direct ethical issues associated with it as the data collection & analysis is secondary.

In conclusion note that:

although the tables informs you about the no. of studies carried out in each country it does NOT give the no. of babies studied in each case. you need to be cautious about interpreting these figures because, in many cases, the sample size in a study was fairly small (e.g 36 babies in the single Chinese study)

when using any psychological test, it is important to be cautious about attributing what is measured (type of attachment) to the individual. it could be that it is something about the testing situation that makes some of these infants appear to be insecurely attached!

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How do the findings of v+K relate to child-rearing

V&K show that attachment types vary between cultures due to:

  • different methods
  • different attributed & qualities
  • values of a particular culture

They say the SS technique reflects the method of child-rearing in different cultures

  • Japanese babies react more violently with tears when the mother leaves (ambivalent)
  • In Israel they live in small groups & protest violently when confronted with a stranger
  • In W.Germany independence is highly valued children show little distress on separation (avoidant)

 It is important to recognise & understand cultural differences but not assume babies in 1 part of the world are superior to other.s

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How do the findings of v+K relate to child-rearing

Aviexer et al 1994 (important recent study) of babies in Kibutz in Israel. led to review of communal rearing where babies & young children sleep together in large dorms can lead to ambivalent attachment so now more family like arrangements & return to parents at nights to sleep.

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Disruption of Attachment- seperation

This can be short or long term, it can be planned or unexpected.

e.g a parent goes to hospital for routine operation or ha an accident which requires emergency care.

Separation in relation to attachment usually relates to the separation of mother & baby

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Disruption of Attachment- seperation- immediate re

As we know from Schaffer  & Emerson study babies form their 1st attachment at around 8-9 months & they are likely to respond to separation from their attachment figure with a particular behaviour pattern known as P.D.D (protest. despair. detachment)

Protest -> child cries, screams, protests angrily when parent leaves. may attempt to cling to parent & will try escape if anyone else tries to pick them up

Despair -> after a while, child's angry protest begins to stop & they appear calmer although still upset. the child is likely to refuse others attempt to comfort & withdraw

Detachment -> if the separation continues child may begin to engage with others but be wary, likely to reject caregiver when they return & show signs of anger.

This PDD originates from the work of Robertsons and the film 'young children in brief separation'

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Disruption of Attachment- seperation- long term se

A long term effect of separation is separation anxiety & this can persist long after the separation is over, & is shown in a range of behaviours (EDD)

Extreme clinginess: the child may 'cling' whenever the parent attempts to leave them even in situations e.g nursery where have been happy before

Detachment: child may appear detached to caregiver & refuse cuddles. this behaviour may be designed to protect them from being hurt again if they are left. many children alternate between detachment & clinginess, making it hard for parents.

The child may be more demanding of their attachment figure

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factors affecting the child's response to seperati

Young children respond in different ways to short term separation, some being more distressed than others, obviously individual differences come into play.

  • age of child- the response to short-term separation is stronger for 12-18 months ( Schaffer & Callender 1959) Studied behaviour of 76 babies aged between 3-51 weeks who were admitted to a children's hospital, children younger than 7 months showed minimal upset. After this age childs's response increased up to 18 months. related to development of child's language skills, as well as the ability to understand that the attachment figure will return Maccoby 1980
  • The type of attachment between child & caregiver- a securely attached child is more likely to cope better with short separation than a child with insecure ambivalent attachment type. (Barret 1997) that belief that the mother figure will return.
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factors affecting the child's response to seperati

  • the sex of the child- boys appear to appear to respond more strongly to separation than girls but there are wide differences within as well as between sexes.( Gross & McIlveen 1997)
  • who child is left with & the quality of care they receive: will definitely have an effect, 10 month children may have multiple attachments which means effect is minimal.
  • experience of previous separation- if child is used to being left out e.g playgroup. it is likely to respond less strongly than child who was rarely separated from attachment figure.

CRITICISM OF PDD (Protest.Despair.Detachment)

Barett said this was misleading as Protest was more about effort that child is making to cope with feelings of separation.

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Lack of attachment & effects of privation

Privation-> literally the lack of something. emotional privation is the lack of attachment/ love in a child who has been unable to form an attachment. physical privation refers to the lack of basic physical needs such as food / shelter.

There are 2 types of studied that have informed us about the effects of privation:

  • Case studies: exist of children who have been brought up in extreme circumstances, such as total isolation where they have been unable to form an attachment e.g Koluchova & Skuse
  • Studies of children who have been raised in intuitions & late adopted e.g Tizard & Hodges
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case studies of privation

Kullchova (1972, 1977, 1991) did a case study of twin boys born in 1960, in Czechoslovakia & brought up in care after mother died. at age of 18 months they returned to live with dad & step-mum & suffered serious privation until age 7 when discovered taken into care. Between the ages of 18 months and 7 they were locked in an unheated cellar away from human company, starved & beaten.

When discovered they had no speech, were terrified of people & had serious health problems from their early malnutrition.

Following the discovery they attended a school for children with learning difficulties for intensive rehabilitation & were fostered then adopted by 2 sisters who provided a secure & permament home for them. In this environment they developed average intelligence & formed strong emotional bonds with the family, they were found to have attained average intelligence & to have developed into happy & sociable boys who attending a mainstream school. (Kullchova 1997).

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case studies of privation

In a follow up (1999) began (1969). K reported that the early damage had been totally repaired & no signs of psychological problems


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case studies of privation

Skuse 1984 reported the case of 2 sisters who suffered extreme social & emotional privation in early childhood. Their mother had severe learning difficulties & may also have had a mental illness. The children were kept in a small room & tied to the bed with dog leads to keep the flat clean & prevent them from falling off the balcony.When they became too noisy they were covered with a blanket.

The children were found by Social Services, when they were aged 3.5 (louise) & 2.5 (mary) & put into care in a children's hospital. When found, they had no real speech & showed little evidence of play.

Following speech therapy, Louise developed normal language & began to attend a primary school at age of 5. In contrast Mary did not develop language skills & was moved into a unit for autistic children aged 7.5. A brother found with them was raise in different family, remained autistic had severe learning difficulties.

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Evaluate case study research - ethical issues

  • Case studies of this nature provide serious ethical challenges & dilemmas for the researcher, because the children involved are often seriously affected they may be unable to give their fully informed consent to take part in further study. Foster parents/ carers may also feel under pressure from researchers to allow continued study of the children in their care.
  • The ongoing follow-up of children in their later lives may be experienced by them as intrusive and some who have taken part in case studies have later suggest that the experience has been actively damaging to them, making them feel as is they are simply 'object' of psychological interest.
  • researchers in this area treads a fine line. In balancing the desire to study effects of privation against the needs of those directly involved.
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Evaluate case study research - methodolodical issu

These case studies provide valuable information about the effects of early privation on children's emotional & cognitive development. but the children involved have often suffered emotional & physical privation & physical maltreatment/ abuse. It is difficult to asses the effect of each of these experiences on their overall development.

In addition, case studies are retrospective: they involve looking back into the past to piece together what may have happened in the early life of the children. It is v.difficult to establish this with accuracy & therefore it is difficult to draw conclusions from case study research.

These research problems were largely overcome in a natural experiment Tizard & Hodges 1984 & 1989 examining children raised in an insitution. their early childhoods were well documented, so there was no need to attempt to piece together the past. In addition, the children has all received a good standard of physical care & the only form of privation they had suffered was emotional

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Tizard & Hodges 1984 & 1989

 aim: examine long term effects of emotional privation

procedure: (natural experiment) 65 children brought up in children's home until they were around 4 years old. During this time, the children were unable to form an attachment to any of the adults. Staff at the home were discourages from forming relationships with the children to prevent the children becoming upset of the staff let their jobs. by the time the children were 2 they had on average 24 diff carers, by age 4 around 50. The children were provided with good physical care & intellectual stimulation in the institution & showed no cognitive deficits.

result: at the age of 2, the children showed a range of unusual 'attachment' behaviours. Rather than showing fear to strangers they would run to any adult who entered the room & demand their attention in an indiscriminate manner.  they would also cry when the adults left, despite the fact they had no attachment with them. These behaviours are characteristic of children raised in institutions & are part of behaviour pattern known as 'disinhibited attachment'

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Tizard & Hodges 1984 & 1989

A change occurred when the kids were around 4 years old. 25% were returned/ 'restored' to their biological parents who had given them up to care as babies. Another group of 33 were adopted & the remaining 7 continued in care, being fostered for some periods of time & returning to the children's home at others. This was the naturally occurring variable

T&H visited the children with their families when the kids were 8, and at 16 the children took part in interviews with a key adult (mum, dad, careworker) present. T&H also asked permission to contact the teenagers' schools & if this was given, teachers & same-sex peers completed an assessment via a questionnaire to asses their attachment behaviour -the dependent variable

T&H found that almost all of the adoptees (20/21) & some of the restored (7/13) formed close attachment to their parents by age of 8. This situations was similar at age 16 with more adoptees than restored children being close to their parents. This may have been due to the considerable effort made by adoptive families to form strong attachments with their children.

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Tizard & Hodges 1984&1989

In terms of relationships with peers & siblings, the restored group had worse relationships with their siblings than the adoptees. However all 3 groups raised in institution had difficulties with peer relationships & were less likely to belong to a crowd. They were rated by teachers as more likely to seek attention from adults & member of the restored group were more agrumentative.

conclusion T&H concluded that those who were adopted seemed to develop a good family relationship. In contrast, the restored group continued to experience some problems & difficulties in their family relationships, notable with siblings. both groups showed similar difficulties in relationships with peers. they continued to seem orientated to please adults but less able to form relationships with those outside the family.

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Tizard & Hodges 1984&1989

Methodological Issues

  • this study is commendable in the use of a range of research methods to collect information on the children's relationships including in-depth interviews, questionnaires to teachers & self-report measures
  • 1 difficulty found with longitudinal research is participant attrition. this means that at each stage of the research, p's drop out of the study & do not wish to take part . in this study 65 children were originally in the sample but only 51 were studied at age 8. those who continue to participant may not be a representative group
  • this study was a natural experiment. the IV was the place in which the child was brought up from age 4 & this was not controlled by the researchers. this brings up the issue of how it was decided which children should be adopted & which should remain in the institution. it is possible that there may have been differences & perhaps the adopted group were more socially skilled, making them easier to place in adoptive families.
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Tizard & Hodges 1984&1989

Ethical issues

this study involves the extremely sensitive area of family relationships. it was important for the researchers to ensure that families & children were placed under no pressure to continue to participate & for the researchers to respond in a sensitive & non-judgemental way during the follow-up interviews.

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Rutter et al 2007

aim: compare Romanian orphans who were adopted by UK families with UK born adoptees placed in family before 6 months old.

procedure: (Romanian were in orphan from as young as (1-2 weeks) Conditions were v.poor. 58 babies were adopted before 6 months and 59; 6-24 months. 48 were classed as late placed adoptees (2-4). these formed 3 conditions of natural IV. At the time of the adoption over 1/2 Romanians showed evidence of severe malnourishment, they were in bottom 1/3 of the population for weight & head size, some had been followed up to age 4,6,11 using range of measures interview & observation.


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Rutter et al 2007

result: at age 6 evidence of dishinbited attachment was found as a persuasive pattern of attention seeking behaviours relative to lack of selectivity in social relationships. this was most common for late adopted romanians  with over 1/4 showed marked disinhibited behaviours, this was extremely rare in UK (3.8%) & early adopted children (8.9%). in 2007 some of these children were followed up to 11 - disinhibited behaviour pattern had persisted in many adoptees.Of 83 Romanain showing mild/ marked dishibited behaviour at age 6, 45 &54%) of these still showed it 5 years later.

conclusion dishibited attachment more likely to occur in children who experienced longer in institutional care. R found that disinhibited pattern had persisted in many adoptees. many children showing this attachments were receiving help from either special educational and/or mental health services

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Rutter et al 2007

Methodological Issues

  • a range of measurements to assess the children's behaviour including semi-structured interviews & observation to see if child makes inappropriate physical contact. research is rich & detailed
  • as with T&H study p attrition is an issue with longitudinal research study
  • Rutter et al. acknowledge that it has been difficult to obtain information about the quality of care in many of the institutions in Romania making it difficult to asses the extent of privation in the early environments of the children in the study 
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Rutter et al 2007

Ethical Issues

  • as with other longitudinal studies in this area, researchers need to be sensitive to the needs of both the children & their adoptive families in the research. the extent of p attrition shows that some families may wish to remove themselves from further study & bring up their children outside the glare of research. Freedom to withdraw from a research study is an important ethical principle.
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Can children recover from institutional care & pri

  • the quality of care at the institution
  • the age of the child when removed from it
  • the quality of care after
  • the follow-on experience in later life
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Can children recover from institutional care & pri

The quality of care at the institution

Dontas et al. 1985 carried out 2 studies on babies in a Greek orphanage to see if children raise in institutional care could develop attachments in the normal way. in 1 study, they look at 15 babies aged between 7-9 months (the important age at which attachments are formed) each child had been given a member of staff to care specifically for them & had formed an attachment with their carer. D visited them after 2 weeks in their adoptive home. D found that the babies adjusted well & by the end of the 2nd week had started to form attachments to their new carers. 16 babies aged between 5 & 12 months were observed playing with familiar & unfamiliar peers of a similar age. As in the above study, each of the babies had been able to form an attachment with a carer at the children's home. Their play behaviour showed none of the apparent seeking that had previously been noted in T&H study. this research shows how important it is for children in institutions to be able to develop attachments to staff at the normal age (7-8 months)

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Can children recover from institutional care & pri

The age of the child when removed from it

children who are removed from privation when still young, such as the Romanian orphans adopted under 6 months, tend to make better developmental progress both cognitively & emotionally than those who have experienced privation for longer. Age is particularly important in relation to language development. While children show good language catch-up before puberty, they are much less likely to develop language skills after 11/12.

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Can children recover from institutional care & pri

The quality of care after

children are likely to do best when they are placed in a loving & supportive environment. They need the opportunity to form one-to-one attachment with an adult who gives them sufficient attention as shown in research by Koluchova 1972&1991. T&H study found that the adopted children were more strongly attached to their new parents than the restored group, this may be due the quality of care provided by the adoptive parents.

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Can children recover from institutional care & pri

The follow-on experience in later life

there is evidence to suggest that adult experiences & relationships can go some way towards repairing early adverse circumstances. Quinton & Rutter 1984/1988 compared 2 groups of women in their 20's. 1/2 had been brought up in care & spent several years of their childhood in children's homes. They were compared with a group matched for age that came from the same area but had not spent time in care.The care group was more likely to have relationship breakdowns, criminal records & more difficulties with parenting their children. However there were dramatic differences between women had been brought up in care. Those who had positive experiences at school & later good relationships / marriages fared much better. Q&R argued that positive experiences in early adulthood let to different 'developmental pathways' for the 2 groups of women. By this they shows that it is not just early experience that influence later development. when they are followed by good experiences in later life, the early effects can be overcome.

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