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Looks at Theories of Attachment, Types of Attachment(inc. cultural variations) abnormal attachments, day care and research's effect  on society

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  • Created by: ava.scott
  • Created on: 02-05-14 11:32

Learning Theory

Classical Conditioning

  • Food (unconditioned stimulus (UCS)) causes the baby to be happy (unconditioned response (UCR))
  • The mother delivers the food and is a neutral stimulus.
  • Baby soon learns to associate the mother with happiness, until the mother alone can stimulate this feeling. Mother= conditioned stimulus., happinness = conditioned response.

Operant Conditioning

The consequences of a behaviour are key to the future occurrence of that behaviour e.g. a positive consequence = more occurrences.

  • Baby is in a drive state( e.g. hunger) and is crying. Mother wishes to solve this so feeds the baby.
  • This is negative reinforcement for the mother and positive reinforcement for the baby.
  • Mother is a secondary reinforcer, and food is a primary reinforcer.
  • Baby learns to cry for food, and that the mother provides comfort.
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Learning Theory: Supporting Evidence

Feral Children

  • e.g. Oxana. Oxana had alcoholic parents and from a very young age was provided food by her dogs. She was then very attached to them and took on canine characteristics. This supports learning theory as her attachment seems to have come from the provision of food.

However, its a case study, which meants it has many variables, and low population validity (being a one off) The dogs could have also provoked an attachment by their warmth and comfort.

Practical Applications

  • Encouraged further research into attachment
  • encouraged interaction with children, which we now know is beneficial (any interaction is beneficial).
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Learning Theory: Challenging Evidence

Harlows monkeys: 

  • The monkeys weren't attached to the feeding 'mother', but the soft mother. This challenged the idea that food is the key element in attachment.

Glasgow Infants

  • Glasgow infants: 39% of these babies formed an attachment with their mother rather than the person who fed them (nanny), suggesting food is not the key aspect of attachment,
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Theories of Attachment: Bowlby

Monotropy- The idea that every infant has one special attachment.

Internal Working Model- The idea that this special relationship provides a 'blue print' for all future relationships. If it is an avoidant attachement, the individual will grow up to be unresponsive.

Social Releasers- These are behaviours shown by the baby (e.g. crying and giggling) and the adult (e.g. cooing and 'aw'ing). The more social releasers a adult gives, the more likely an attachment will form.

Critical Period- If an attachment isnt made in this period (2.5 years for humans) then no attachment will be made at all.

Innate/Adaptive- Making an attachment is not learnt; we are born with the ability and desire to make an attachment.

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Bowlby's theory: supporting evidence.

Harlows Monkeys

a) the monkeys attached to the cloth mother, supporting the idea of innate attachment (and disregarding food as key to attachment)

b) the isolated monkeys could not partake in usual social activity, or mate normally with other monkeys. This supports the internal working model.

Hazen and Shaver Love Quiz-  

The questionnaire showed that those who had less secure attachments as a child, were more likely to be divorced or in a difficult relationship.This supports the internal working model.

Lorenz's ducks-

Lorenz caused a group of ducklings to attach to him within their critical period. They were later put in abox with another group of ducklings, which was upturned, and they were released. Lorenz's ducks ran straight to him, and the other ducklings to their mother. This justifies the innate concept, as the ducklings attached to Lorenz before any food was involved.

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Bowlby's theory: evaluating supportive evidence

ANIMALS: Both Harlow and Lorenz's study was conducted on animals, which are very different cognitively to humans. This means we cannot draw direct conclusions to human attachment from these experiments.

QUIZ/QUESTIONNAIRE: Hazen and Shaver used a questionnaire with are notoriously susceptible to demand characteristics and social desirability bias.

It was also only sent out to Americans, so lacks populational validity.

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Bowlby's theory: Challenging evidence

Tizard and Hodges

Followed 65 children in a institution where no attachment was allowed. 24 were adopted, 15 reinstated by 4 years old.

At 4, 8 and 16 years old, the adopted children were more likely to be attached to their parents that reinstated groups. This challenges the idea of the critical period, as the children made attachments after 2.5 years

Czech Twins.

Male twins found at 7 years old, had been severely neglected and abused.

They made a remarkable recovery with caring foster parents, also challenging the critical period.

However, they could have attached to each other.

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Bowlby's Theory: Practical Applications

  • Social Policy

encouraged maternity and paternity laws to extend time off work, as the attachment period is so 'critical'.

  • Advice to parents

 the key aspects of attachment are encouraged to be fulfilled to succeed in happy, secure attachments.

  • Adoption policies

adoption will have the best results if it occurs before 2.5 years of life. This allowed adoption to be sped up, and during Bowlby's time, adoption was very efficient.

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Types of Attachment: The Strange Situation


  • 66%
  • Used mother as safe base for exploration.
  • Subdued on separation
  • Only calmed by mother on reunion, and relatively quickly.


  • 22%
  • Explored freely without a safe base
  • Only anxious when completely alone
  • comforted by both mother and stranger


  • 12%
  • Rarely left mother to explore
  • Hysterical anxiety when separated from mother
  • Rejects mother on return
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The strange situation: supporting evidence

  •  Many practical applications: helps identify healthy relationships so we can help the care situation of a child.
  • Very reliable: A study showed that 100% of babies classified as secure at 18 months were still secure at 6 years. 75% for isecure avoidant.
  • Also, secure attched children go on to be more confident and have leadership qualities.
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The strange situation: challenging evidence

Kagans temperment hypothesis- This is the critricism that infants are born with an innate personality. This would affect their attachment type. Therefore, the strange situation isn't measuring a attachment that comes from interaction between mother and child

4th attachment type- a 'disorganised' attachment type was found. This makes Ainsworth's results invalid, as many of the children could be this 4th type.

All American- less populational validity

Only one carer- SSS only analyses the infants attachment type to one carer. They could be attached differently to someone else.

Artifcial setting-The SSS is in an artificial setting, that could cause the mother to act differently (demand characteristics or social desirability bias.) This could in turn affect the infant, and therefore make the observations invalid.

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Cultural Variations: Van Ijzendoorn and Krooenburg

Van Ijzendoorn and Krooenburg:

Meta Analysis of 32 strange situation studies showed that all countries dominating attachment type was secure. However, there was great variation in the frequency of the insecure attachment types e.g. Germany had 49% avoidants, whereas Japan had none.


Imposed Etic: The Strange situation was designed in America for Americans. Therefore it might not be suitable to test attachment in other cultures, as the behaviour may mean different things. This is shown in Takahashi's strange situation.

Unrepresentative: Most of the studies were done in America; China only had one single study. Surely this one study of 36 infants does not represent a population of 1.5million.

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Cultural Variations: Takahashi


Carried out the strange situation study in Japan. He found that 68% were secure, and the rest resistantly attached.

This huge percentage of resistant behaviour, and the complete lack of avoidant is down to the Japanese culture. Mothers bring up their children permanently by their side . They are taught to be very loving and responsive; avoidant behaviour would be considered rude. However, the infants showed huge anxiety when separated from the mother- in fact this stage of the experiement had to be stopped for 90% of infants. This was probably to do with shock at being left rather that insecurity. 

Therefore, the strange situation is not suitable for analysing some cultures attachment types, as it is not measuring mild anxiety, which the SSS was designed, but extreme anxiety.


Small group of children.

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Cultural Variations: Takahashi


Carried out the strange situation study in Japan. He found that 68% were secure, and the rest resistantly attached.

This huge percentage of resistant behaviour, and the complete lack of avoidant is down to the Japanese culture. Mothers bring up their children by their side permanently. They are taught to be very loving and responsive; avoidant behaviour would be considered rude. However, the infants showed huge anxiety when separated from the mother- in fact this stage of the experiemnt had to be stopped for 90% of infants. This was probably to do with shock at being left rather that insecurity. 

Therefore, the strange situation is not suitable for analysing some cultures attachment types, as it is not measuring mild anxiety, such as the SSS was designed, but extreme anxiety.


Small group of children.

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Explanations of cross cultural differences/similar

Cultural differences:

German children are taught to be more independent and non-demanding from a young age. This is reprented by high frequencies of avoidant attachment types.

Japanese mother rear their chidlren very closely, so when separated this caused a great deal of anxiety. This was represented in a high freuqency of resistant behaviour (but later thoughts agree that the SSS is insufficient in this case.)

Isreali children are often brought up by nannies, so show little anxiety when left by the mother, but great anxiety when left with a stranger.

Similarities- MASS MEDIA:

The distribution of mass media (usually western) across the globe could be influencing parents to bring their children up in a more western way. This could explain the similarity of high freuqencies of secure attachments between cultures.

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Disruption of Attachment: John

Case study of John

  • CASE STUDY OF JOHN-  17 month old boy with a harmonious, secure attachment with his mother. He goes into care for 9 days, with an institution with high child;staff ratio. He soon turns into a hysterical, non-eating child, and rejects his mother on reunion.


  • Naturally occurring behaviour, which produces rich data.
  • identified low child:staff ratio as a key factor in institutions.
  • Researchers may lack objectvity
  • Case study- many variables and low population validity.
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Disruption of Attachment: Bowlbys Juvenile Thieves

Bowlby's juvenile theives

  • Bowlbys juvenile thieves- 88 children were refereed to his child guidance clinic. 44 of these were thieves, and of these 44, 16 were diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths. 
  • Then through a series of interviews discovered that 60% of the pychopaths had expereinced early separation from their mother. Only 4% of the 44 other children had. He concluded that early maternal separation lead to a suscesptibiliy to psychopathy. Lead to Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis- motherly care must be continuous and intimate.


  •  made it clear that children emotions were needed to be taken into account- lead to change in hospital and prison visiting times being altered.
  • Interviews open to social desirability bias.
  • Populationally invalid- only one area in America.
  • There could be an underlying factor between the psychopaths and the separations e.g. a genetic tendency to leave the children, which also passes on as psychopathics.
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Privation: Genie and the Czech Twins

Genie. Found at 13 after a life on neglect and abuse (strapped to a potty 24 hours a day). Never made substantial improvements in language or social skills.

  • Her father said she had learning difficulties when born. If this is true, this could have contributed to her lack of development.
  • Found very late, when most development should be complete.
  • Never had a chance to attach to anyone- complete privation.
  • Very poor after care- went to an abusive foster family whilst being exploited by researchers. This could have contributed to her lack of rehabilitation.

The Czech twins. Discovered at 7 years old, after a neglect and abuse (locked in an understairs cupboard and fed scraps.) Made excellent progress after discovery.

  • Had no sign of mental illness.
  • Found significantly earlier than Genie, so perhaps more chance of rehabilitaion.
  • Had a chance to attch to mother before her death, and then to eachother, allowing an internal working model to develop.
  • Given to a very caring foster family and looked after well. Perhaps this after care was key to their development.
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Privation evaluation

Both are case studies, so lack populational validity and no control over variables.

The researchers may have lacked objectivity.

They didn't establish what was the key factor on development after their discovery; after care, age found or chance to attach?

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Institutionalisation: Rutters Romanian Orphans

Rutter brought 111 romanaian oprhans who had been living in a very poor quality orphanage.They were found to have much lower IQ (at 60 compared to 95. Older orphans fared worse, with an avg, IQ of 45), physical and social development that the control group of 52 English orphans. Each orphan was adopted.

After 4, 8, 16 years a series of interviews were conducted to investigate the institutions affect on the orphans. Each had caught up quickly with the control group's development, although the older orphans still lagged behind. The interviews reported close relationships with adopted parents, although the Romanians were susceptible to wandering off and being indiscriminately friendly to adults.


  • Losing a mother alone is not key to underdevelopment, as the english orphans did not suffer the underdevelopment such as the romanians.
  • Adoption is a good outcome for an infant, and should be carried out as quickly as possible when it is clear the infant cannot stay with its birth mother.
  • Intervention in institutionalisation should happen quickly (before 6 months), but negative effects can be overcome by good after care.
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Institutionalisation: Evaluation of Rutter

  • Only romanian orphans so lacks population validity.
  • Didn't compare to other romanian orphans: perhaps its normal to be slower in development for Romanians.
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Institutionalisation: Tizard and Hodges inc. evalu

Tizard and Hodges

Followed 65 children in an institution where attachment was prohibited. By 4 years, naturally, 24 children had been adopted, and 15 reinstated with their birth parents.

It was found that the adopted children had stronger securer relationships with their parents, than the reinstated group. Both sets of children had worse peer relations than the control group.


The effect of institutionalisation is dependent on the after-care recieved. The reinstated children may have been given back to parents who couldn't look after them or didn't even want them.


Information gathered by interviews, which are open to demand characteristics and social desirability bias. 

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Day Care: Aggression: NICHD and EPPE

Behavior meant specifically to harm someone e.g. kicking, biting, or even lying.

  • NICHD Study- followed 1000 families from the age of 5. Found that the more time in care spent, the more aggressive behaviour was displayed. Those who spent 3 or more full days in care were significantly more aggressive.

We cannot assume causality from a correlation. Also, it was only a slight correlation- 83% of the children showed no increase in violence.

  • EPPE project- Showed there was a slight increase in aggression if the child spents 20 hours or more a week in day care. This risk increases even further if 40 hours or more is spent.

More time in day care often coincides with lower socio-economic backgrounds, and therefore introduces factors of parent stress levels etc.

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Day Care: Aggression: Baker and ALPSAC

  • Baker- when Quebec introduced free day care for all, the amount of 0-4 year olds in day care increased by 14%. 33,000 children were studied, and it was found that aggression increased by 24% compared to the 1% in the rest of Canada.

However, parents behaviour also changed, so we cannot assume that it wa the daycare that increased aggression. Perhaps the increase in aggression could be due to hostile parenting.

  • ALPSAC- followed 14,000 children and found that day care had no negative or positive impact on aggression.

The huge sample size means it is easily generalised.

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Day Care: Peer Relations studies

The ability to make friends, as well as popularity and cooperation.

  • Shea- showed that children were more sociable if they were in day care.
  • DiLalla- correlational study found that those who spent more time in day care were less socially competent.

correllation cannot assume causality e.g. perhaps their lack of social development lead to them being put into day crare.

  • Field- found that children who spent more time in day care, had more friends.

They were merely given the opportunity to make new friends, doesn't prove they are better at making them.

  • Campbell- a swedish study found that children before 3.5 years who spent long days at day care were less socially competent compared to those who spent more, shorter days.
  • Also, the quality of day care is very important.
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Day Care: Social Development

The tendency to seek and enjoy and form personal relationships with others.

  • Belsky and Rovine- Found that children who went into day care form more than 20 hours a week, 4 months before their first birthday were more likely to form insecure attachments.

However, there are many variables as most most of these children came from lower scoioeconomic groups so parent stress level and lack of education could also lead to more insecure attachments.

  • Egeland (equlibrium) and Heister- found that day care could have a negative impact for securely attached children, and a positive impact for insecurely attached children.
  • Clarke-stewart- they found no difference in attachments between children cared for at home or in day care.
  • The high/scope Perry Preschool project- This provided high quality care for 3-4 year old african americans in poverty. It was found that children who took part had lower rates of delinquency, criminal records and receiving of welfare.

little population validity- just with american africans, so cannot be generalised

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Day Care: Social Development: EPPE project

EPPE project-  longitudinal study of more than 3000 infants from 3 years old to Key stage 1.

  • Quality of care (e.g. staff turnover, child:staff ratio, activities and resources) are all important. Emotional and educational care should be integrated.
  • Those in lower socio- economic groups and are at risk of social problems can be greatly benefited by high quality care, with children with lots of different backgrounds.
  • There is a very slight increase in anti-social behaviour for children who spend more than 20 hours in day care. There is a significant increase in those who spend more than 40hrs a week.
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Attachments research influence on society

  • Robertson and Bowlby-  parents allowed to stay with child continuously when in hospital.
  • Rutter- showed that adoption was a good outcome for children, and it should take place as soon as it is obvious the child cannot stay with birth parents. This helps us recognise that adoption system should be more efficient.
  • EPPE- day care care can be particulary beneficial if high quality. This lead to day care places being available to every three year old.
  • Highscope/perry project- shows that disadvantaged children can particulary benefit from high quality day care. Lead to schemes such as SureStart which have been greatly advantageous to high risk families.
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Research effect of Day care practices

  • Well trained staff- staff should know the importance of sensitivity in day care. They also give suitable activities  and curiculums. Sylva said the EPPE shows how quality coincided with the qualifications of the manager.
  • Low staff:child ratios- NICHD study found that day-staff care could only provide fully sensitive care in ratios of 3:1. This allows sufficient attention to be given to each child.
  • Sensitivity of staff- NICHD study found 23% of staff are highly sensitive, 50% moderatley sensitive and 20% detached. Sensitivity leads to a more secure and unstressed environment for the child.
  • Consistency of care- Shaffer found that children are less likely to form an attachemnt in high-staff turnover, or even suffer anxiety if an attachment is made but the staff member leaves.
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