Attachment AO2


Learning Theory of Attachment AO2

  • A study that undermines the learning explanation of attachment is Harlow’s monkeys. In Harlow’s study he had two wire mothers which acted as mothers, one offered food and one was covered in soft cloth but offered no food.

  • The monkeys became attached to the wire mother wrapped with soft cloth.

  • This undermines the learning explanation of attachment because according to the learning theory the monkeys should be more attached to the mother that offers food.

  • Another study which criticises the learning theory of attachment is Scheffer and Emerson (1964).

  • They observed 60 human babies from mainly working class homes in Glasgow for a year.

  • They found that the children were attached more to the person who interacted with them the most not the person who fed them. Therefore criticising the learning theory of attachment

  • A criticism of Harlow monkeys is that it lacks validity. Behaviourist’s explanations may lack validity because they present an oversimplified version of human behaviour.

  • Therefore supporting Harlow’s monkeys and the learning theory of attachment. However behaviourists argue that we are no different from animals.

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Evolutionary Theory of Attachment AO2

  • Strength of Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment would be Hodges and Tizards (1989) longitudinal study.

  • Hodges and Tizards (1989) longitudinal study of institutionalised children (living in orphanages) who had formed no attachments in the early part of their lives and had difficulty forming relationships with peers.

  • Therefore supporting Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment and the critical period.

  • Strength of Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment and supporting monotrophy would be Tronick et al (1992) as it suggested if attachment evolved as a biological function it would be universal.

  • Tronick et al (1992) studied an African tribe the Efe who live in extended family groups. Their infants are looked after by different women but usually sleep with their own mother at night. Despite the difference with the child rearing practices at 6 months they still showed one primary attachment.

  • Therefore supporting Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment and monotrophy.

  • A weakness of Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment is Belsky and Rovine (1987).

  • Belsky and Rovine (1987) assess baby’s ages 1-3 days old and found a link between certain physiological behaviors and later attachment types. They found infants who were calmer and less anxious (aspects of temperament) were more likely to be securely attached.

  • Therefore criticizing Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment and supporting the temperament hypothesis

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Type of Attachment AO2

  • A strength of the same situation is that Bowlby predicted that there would be continuities between early attachment experience and later social and emotional development.

  • A number of longitudinal studies have supported the claim that there is a link between attachment types and later social functions. Prior and Glaser (2006) found that a secure outcome leads to higher achievement. They also found that an insecure attachment avoidant may involve aggressiveness. Additionally they found that resistant attachment may involve and associate with greater anxiety and withdrawal of behaviour.

  • They also found out that disorganised behaviour linked to a hostile and aggressive behaviour.

  • Strength of the strange situation is that there is a link between attachment and adult relationship behaviour.

  • Bowlby suggested that attachment creates an internal working model of relationships that leads to the infant to expect the same in later relationships. Hazen and Shaver (1987) investigated the hypothesis using a ‘love quiz’ in a newspaper. It asked about early attachment experiences, to classify attachment types, current love experiences and attitudes towards lover (internal working model). They found that 5the later relationship behaviours associated with early attachments.

  • This supports Bowlby's theory and therefore supporting the strange situation.

  • A criticism of the strange situation is that there are ethical issues.

  • Ainsworths did not intend to cause stress. She claimed that there would be no stress. She said the situation would be no more disturbing than a real life situation. However episode six showed that there was 20% of the infants that cried desperately. 

  • This shows that this situation is not ethically inappropriate to uses with infants, therefor criticizing the strange situation.

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Cross Cultural Variation AO2

  • The issue with cultural bias is important in attachment research. Rothbaum et al argue that attachment has a western bias.

  • Attachment theory assumes that independence is important for a secure basis of the sensitivity hypothesis, the secure base hypothesis and the continuity hypothesis. However some non- Western cultures such as Japan dependence is more important in displaying these hypotheses.

  • This suggest that psychologists should seek to develop indigenous theories of attachment- explanations of attachment rooted in different cultures

  • There is evidence to explain cultural similarities. Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg suggest that cross cultural similarities they found may be explained by the effects of mass media (TV and books) which spread ideas about parenting so that children all over the world are exposed t similar influences.

  • This means that cultural similarities may not be due to innate biological influences but are because of our increasingly global culture in urban areas. Therefore supporting cross cultural similarities.

  • A criticism of research into cross cultural variations is that the Meta analysis looked at ‘counties’ which isn't the same as cultures. Within any country there are a number of cultures, which means it may be meaningless to compare attachment rates in different countries. Van Ijzendoorn and Sagi found over representation of insecure resistant infants in a rural Japanese sample whereas rates in urban Tokyo were more like the US rates.

  • This means that it really only makes sense to compare cultural groups rather than pooling data with different countries.

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Cross Cultural Similarities AO1

P-Research that supports Bowlby’s view that attachment is universal is.

E- Tronick et al (1992) studied an African tribe – the Efe, who lived in extended family groups. The infants are looked after by different women but usually sleep with their own mothers at night. Despite the difference with the child rearing practices at six months they still showed primary attachment.

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Cross Cultural Differences AO1

P- In contrast there are some studies that suggest there are important differences. E- Grossman and Grossman (1991) fund that German infants tended to be classified insecurely rather than securely attached. This may be due to different childrearing practices German culture involves keeping some interpersonal distance between parent and children, so infants dont engage in proximity behaviours in the Strange Situation and thus appear to be insecurely attached.

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Disruption of Attachment AO2

  • Strength of the research into disruption of attachment is that disruption of attachment can be reversed.

  • Bohman and Siguardsson (1979) studied over 600 adopted children in Sweden. At the age of 11, 26% of them were classified as ‘problem children’ in a follow up study ten years after none of them were any worse off than the rest of the population.

  • Therefore supporting research into disruption of attachment.

  • Strength of research into disruption of attachment is external validity.

  • The films were naturalistic observations – real life events in a realistic setting. Robertson was meticulous in the way he designed his observations in order to avoid any bias he allowed others to view his observations. However there is also a criticism in relation to validity. As these children may show certain characteristics that differential ate them from the other children.

  • Therefore it is not appropriate to think that all children will react the same way.

  • A weakness of research into disruption of attachment is Individual difference.

  • Bowlby studied 60 children under the age of four who had TB. Treatment involved a prolonged stay in hospital. The nurses couldn’t provide maternal care and they were only visited once a week. When these children were assessed in adolescence, some in the TB group were more maladjusted than the normal children, but therefore no differences in terms of intellectual development.

  • Therefore criticising research into disruption of attachment as it may be to do with children being more securely attached and thus more resilient.

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Privation - Failure to form AO2

  • Strength of failure to form an attachment is that it can lead to poor parenting.

  • Quinton et al (1984) who compared a group of 50 women who had been reared in institutions with a control group of 50 women who had been reared at home. When the women were in their 20’s it was found that the ex-institutional women were experiencing extreme difficulties acting as parents. For example, more of the ex-institutional women had children who had spent time in care. Therefore supporting failure to form an attachment leading to poor parenting

  • A weakness of failure to form an attachment is that privation is only one factor.

  • It is more likely that damage only occurs when there are multiple risk factors such as privation followed by poor subsequent care, or insecure attachment with early-separation and parental disharmony (turner and Lloyd (1995)) due to one third of the children recovering in Rutter’s study. Therefore it seems that privation alone cannot explain negative outcomes, criticising failure to form and attachment.

  • A criticism of failure to form an attachment is that we do not know the long term effects.

  • We do not know what extent the effects of privation associated with institutional care extend into adult life. In the Romanian study the last assessment at age 11 showed a lower number of children with disinhibited attachments. In the Hodges and Tizards study it was not possible to recon tact a large enough group of the children later in life. (Tizards 2005) It may be that ex-institutional children need more time than normal to mature sufficiently and learn how to cope with relationships. Therefore criticising failure to form an attachment and long term effects

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Impact of Daycare - Peer Relations AO2

  • There are individual differences in the way children respond to day care.

  • Some children feel more uncomfortable or distressed to be in the day care situation, away from home and with many other children. For example, shy children may find day care overwhelming (Pennebaker et al) and insecurely attached children may be more distressed.

  • This means day care may not promote peer relations at all.

  • There are some contradictory results that suggest that day acre is not associated with improved peer relations.

  • Belsky and Rovine found that more than 20 hours per week of day care was associated with increased insecure attachment, which in turn is associated with decreased popularity. However Belsky and Rovines association may be due to other reasons such as working mothers are more likely to have insecurely attached children.

  • This suggests that day care may actually have a negative effect on peer relations, at least for some children.

  • Clarke Stewart et al did suggest that day care may sometimes have negative effects on peer relations.

  • They found that when there were too many children (more than 20) the effects could be harmful. Children in large classes spent more time being aggressive and less time socialising.

  • This shoes that interacting with peers is not always beneficial to peer relations.

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Influence of Research into Daycare of childcare pr

Each of these points is further supported by research theories. The importance of high quality care is explained by Bowlby’s theory. He argued that healthy, secure attachments are formed with adults who respond with greatest sensitivity. Such sensitivity is a characteristic of high quality day care and is likely to be improved by having good staff to child ratios.

The importance of high quality care may explain why many children experience negative rather than positive effects. It seems that many day care centres are not providing adequate care. The NICHD study 1999 found that only 23% of infant care providers give ‘highly’ sensitive infant care. If this is also the case in the UK it would explain why so many children appear to experience negative rather than positive effects. This underlines the influence of research and the importance of high quality care.

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