Child psychology

  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 15-01-13 10:12


Observational research method (naturalistic)
Take place in participant's natural setting without being set up. Overt, covert, participant, non-participant. Gather qualitative data. Useful in child psych as to study a child's behaviour means to study them in natural environment where behaviour occurs. Understanding 'real' behaviour can help identify triggers so intervention.

+ take place in natural setting so valid.
+ reliable because tallying, time sampling, inter-observer reliability, and quantitative data is checkable.
- not valid because of possible observer drift introducing bias.
- not reliable because at one place, one time so not replicable.

Observational research method (structured)
May set up situation and record certain info about child's behaviour. Antecedent (trigger), behaviour and then consequence of behaviour. Used to gather info about child's behaviour.

+ reliable, can be set up again and repeated - Strange Situation.
+ time and cost effective as behaviour might not naturally occur for long time.
- lacks validity, set up, might not represent real situation.
- lacks validity due to demand characteristics. 

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Case study research method
In depth detailed studies of unique individual or small group, longitudinal. Involve number of research methods (interviewing, observations etc) and are used in child psych to study behaviour that needs to be understood or changed. Gather necessary info for intervention.

+ reliability to extent because data gathered from different research methods.
+ valid as in rela life setting of individual/group.
- unique individual at one moment in time so hard to generalise.

Cross-cultural ways of studying children
A way of studying the universiality of a behaviour by observing it in different cultures and drawing comparisons.Some are ehtnographic - researcher fully immerses self in culture. If same results are found in different cultures, nature. If not, nurture.

+ main way of studying nature-nurture issues.
+ reliability when procedures carefully controlled (Mary Ainsworth)
+ ethnographic cross-cultural studies are valid and indeepth.
- lack of validity transferring one standardised procedure to another culture.
- lack of validity setting up procedure controlled enough to be repeated.

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Longitudinal ways of studying children
Looks at children over a long period of time to document developmental changes. They can involve same procedure over time and measure change, or can involve more ethnogrpahic or case study approach to gather data. Genie is an example of longitudinal study.

+  uses same participants so control over participant variables.
+ only age changes so strong conclusions about how people develop over time.
- many factors change so cause and effect conclusions hard to find.
- high drop out rate can lead to biased sample. 

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

Evolutionary basis: tendency to form attachments in INNATE.
Psychodynamic roots: real relationship with parents could be cause of later problems.

Main features:
Child has innate tendency to form strong attachment to one person - monotropy.

This attachment must be unbroken for first 2 years if to avoid negative effects of deprivation/privation, which are permanent and irreversible.

Maternal deprivation hypothesis - broken attachment within first 2 years can lead to problems such as delinquency or affectionless psychopathy.

Separation anxiety is survival mechanism to draw carer back, and attachment provides child with safe haven from which to explore the world.

Adapative - attachment is evolutionary to give adapative advantage.
Social releasers - behavioural and physical, proximity promoting measures.
Critical period = first 2 years, attachment must be unbroken in this time or SEPI damage
Monotropy - special two-way bond between child and primary caregiver
Internal working model - mental schemata of how relationships should be from monotropic attachment. Forms basis for all future relationships. 

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Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

+ drew on many different studies includng Spitz and Goldfarb.
+ drew on many theoretical perspectives such as Lorenz and evolution theory.
+ used many different research methods (naturalistic obs, interviews, ethology).
- used evidence from animals (Harlow, Lorenz) not legitimately generalisable.
- 44 Juv. Thieves itself can be criticised, no 'normal' control group. 

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Evidence for importance of attachments

Harlow's monkeys
Monkeys removed from mother and placed in 'towell-covered' and 'food-giving' conditions. Monkeys with access to towell-covered monkey were better adjusted, comfort - important.

+ filmed monkeys and clear monkeys rushed to wire monkey when frightened.
+ monkeys = genetically close to humans so some generalisability (not legitimate amount)
- bad ethics, little distress should be caused and the monkeys were very scared.

 Robertson's naturalistic obs. '2 Year Old Goes To Hospital'
Children deprived of attachment figures go through 'protest', 'despair' and 'detachment'. 

+ naturalistic obs. produced valid data because real situation.
- hard to generalise as Laura was unique individual with unique attachment

Goldfarb's study of children in institutions
15 children who'd stayed in institution up to 3, against those who stayed up to 6months. those adopted later showed more problems - evidence for Bowlby's MDH.

+ control group of children fostered early as baseline measure and validity as real.
- so many aspects of fostering that hard to draw c+e conclusions from so small sample.

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How effects of deprivation/privation can be reduce

Easing short-term deprivation with replacement attachment figure
John stayed in residential hospital and tried to get comfort from nurses who didn't have time. Became increasingly distressed, his father couldn't comfort him and John rejected his mother upon return. Jane was fostered, had regular mealtimes and items from her home and her father visited, so she happily accepted mother upon return. Replacement attachment figure helps and effects of deprivation are reversible through familiar situations, routines and individual care from an attachment figure.

Providing more individual care and stimulation
 Improvements in IQ have bene found if more stimulation or lower child-carer ratio. Goldfarb found earilerintervention is better and Spitz found lack of stimulation contributes to harm.

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Mary Ainsworth's work on attachments

8 steps of the strange situation
1. Parent and baby enter lab, set up with toys and chairs to be comfortable.
2. Parent doesn't interact with baby, who is left to explore.
3. Stranger enters, talks to parent, approaches child and parent quietly leaves.
4. This = first separation. Stranger tries to interact with baby.
5. Parent enters, comforts baby then leaves again.
6. Stranger leaves infant alone.
7. Stranger re-enters and tries to interact with baby.
8. Parent returns, interacts with child and stranger quietly leaves.

Attachment types
Securely attached
- distressed when mother left, wanted comfort when she returned. Use mother as safe base and mother is responsive. 70% in Baltimore study were SA.

Anxious avoidant - not distressed when mother left and avoided her on return. Could be mother is neglectful/abusive so kids don't depend. 15% in Baltimore study were AA.

Anxious resistant - stayed close to mother and were very anxious when she left. went for comfort then rejected it when she returned. 15% in Baltimore study were AR.

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Mary Ainsworth's work on attachments

Baltimore and Uganda cross-cultural study
Studied 26 families from each country from birth through 1st year. Used naturalistic observations and interviewed mothers about sensitivity. Found mothers who knew a lot about their baby and were attentive had securely attached infants. General conclusion was securely attached children use mother as safe base and mother is responsive, whereas insecurely attached infants cried more and had less responsive mothers. As similar results found in both cultures, can conclude that there is a biological basis for such attachments.

Evaluation of cross-cultural studies using strange situation task
+ same procedure used, standardised, so findings reliable.
+ consistency in patterns found (the 3 attachment types)
- Cultures have differences (expectations, family structure) can't draw c+e conclusions
- Culture differences = task giving different findings. Maybe Japanese not used to strangers?

Evaluation of Ainsworth's ideas about attachment
+ great deal of evidence (Bowlby, Harlow) so drew on wealth of data.
+ strange situation lab based and replicable, well-controlled, inter-observer reliability.
- lab based and artificial.
- attachment hard to measure so hard to study reliably. 4th attachment type added later. 

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Research into privation

Czech twins - Koluchova
Andrei and Vanya lost their mother shortly after birth and cared for by a social agency. Then aunt cared for them for 6 months and then went to live with father, whose new wife beat them, and locked them in a basement for 5 years. Discovered age 7, boys lacked speech, didn't understand pictures, and were dwarfed in stature.

Doctors who discovered them predicted permanent physical and mental handicap. Once found, underwent intense rehabilitation and were adopted by 2 dedicated sisters. Began to catch up with peers, developed speech and are now stable with jobs and families.

+ twins were normal when leaving care of aunt at 18 months, so baseline measure.
+ case study, triangulation, depth and detail of info suggest validity.
+ longitudinal so helps draw conclusions about reversibility of privation.
- boys had each other to attach to, which might have helped them.
- no way of knowing if the boys are emotionally affected now.
- boys would have formed attachment with aunt, and maybe others in social agency, so maybe deprived rather than privated. 

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Research into privation

Freud and Dann - Bulldog Bank children
Studied group of 6 children from concentration camp whose parents had been killed. They were raised by other prisoners of war, but care was infrequent and it was hard to form attachments. Intially aggressive towards adults and impossible to separate from each other. Began to reach normal development, although 2 had mental health problems as adults.

+ longitdunal so info about long term effects of privation can be found.
+ real study of real children so in-depth, detailed, valid and more ethical than setting it up.
- children attached to each other so might not be as privated as suggetsed.
-  not replicable and so many complex factors that it's hard to draw conclusions.

Is privation reversible?
Freud and Dann and Koluchove found that is was and the children in the study grew up to have normal lives. Genie would suggets it is not, as she never reached normal development, learned to use speech or relate normally to adults. Reiterates a critical or sensitive period - Genie was 13 so significantly older. All studies had 1 person to look after child/children - good qulity care reverses privation? However, Bulldog Bank children and twins had each other, so might have had some socialisation.

Consider - quality of care, individual factors such as resilience, age, whether they had anyone to attach to and that case studies are unique so lack generalisability. 

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Any situation where child is cared for by someone other than primary caregiver for some or all of day. Can be short or longer term. Can be considered a form of short-term deprivation so needs rules in place to protect children. Generally findings suggest good quality daycare provides stimulation, social skills can boost intelligence but shouldn't spend 20+ hours.

Rules for daycare provision: adequte washing facilities, high staff-child ratio, curriculum and 'tick boxes' when child reaches certain milestone to ensure all get same opportunities and stimulation. Formal curriculum ensures daycare is good quality, which is important.

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NICHD study into daycare (USA)

Aim:  to look at the effect of childcare on children.

 study was longitudinal and involved gathering data by different methods including observations, interviews, surveys. Followed 1200 children birth to starting school.

Results and conclusions
Length of time spent in daycare:
children who spent continuous time in daycare were more likely to have behavioural problems, as rated by parents and teachers.

Type of daycare: nursery-type care led to improve cognitive development but also increased behavioural problems.

Quality of daycare: low quality particularly bad for children without sensitive mothers. High quality = stimulating environment and attentive and responsive staff = higher cognitive functioning and language development in children.

+ longitudinal so thorough research, looking at many different aspects of child's life
+ more than one research method, can be checked for reliability and validity
- area of childcare involves many variables, hard to draw meaningful conclusions
- takes place in one culture, can't generalise to another culture (USA to UK) 

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EPPE project (UK)

Aim: look at impact of childcare on a child's intellectual and social/behavioural development, as well as find out whether social inequalities are reduced by attendance to pre-school.

Procedure: study of 3000 children from many social backgrounds. Consisted of observations and interviews with parents and practicioners. 2 main groups - children in some kind of daycare centre and children at home. 'Home' children were control group.

Results/conclusions: high quality care improved social, intellectual and behavioural development. Children had better sociability, concentration and independence the longer they'd been in daycare. Full time attendance had no gains over part time attendance. Disadvantaged children better off in good quality daycare.

+ procedure carefully planned, included control group so cause and effect conclusions.
+ different research methods can be checked for reliability and validity, and had thorough coverage so easier to draw conclusions.
- govt funded so how far did it reflect govt policy? not fair to say this though.
- maybe not generalisable to other cultures.\
- involves many variables, child development is complex, hard to draw meaningful conclusions. 

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Research into daycare

Comparing NICHD and EPPE findings
Findings from EPPE were more positive with regard to use of daycare than NICHD.

EPPE finding that children didn't benefit more from long term attendance than part time reinforce NICHD conclusions, though NICHD researchers said too long in daycare was bad.

EPPE conclusion that children can benefit the earlier they start daycare goes against NICHD conclusion that a very young child doesn't benefit from daycare.

Evaluation of research into daycare
+ studies have taken into account as many factors affecting a child's experience daycare as possible.
+ studies have used large and carefully selected samples in order to avoid bias.
- the issue of child development and the effect of daycare on children is complex and it's hard to account for all factors, such as temperament.
- studies are often carried out in one culture and so maybe not legitimate to generalise to another. 

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Curtiss's study of Genie

Aim: to study the progress, or lack of it, of Genie in order to find out more about her development and help her progress and improve her quality of life.

Case background: Genie was found aged 13, tied to a potty chair in a small, dark room with no language and with a stoop. She had only a few cotton reels to play with.

Case description: data was gathered about Genie through observing her, and there were also tests of language development. Videos and recordings were made and doctors were interviewed. She began to progress and socialise, with regard to eating/communicating, learning words and how to identify objects. She never gained normal language. Genie provides evidence for a critical or sensitive period for development.

+ lots of data and case study so rich, detailed, in-depth qualitative data gathered - valid.
+ Genie was a pseudonym so confidentiality and privacy adhered to - anonymity.
- couldn't be shown the Genie would have developed normally anyway as a paediatrician who examined her at 14 months said she might be retarded.
- ethical implications - although Genie was cared for, people say she was treated like a tets subject at times, had to do lots of tests etc that might have been distressing for her. No info of informed consent, debrief or right to withdraw.

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Bowlby's 44 Juvenile Thieves

Aim: to provide evidence for maternal deprivation hypothesis in a sample of children attending the Tavistock guidance clinic.

Hypothesis: the sample of juvenile thieves will have experienbced more early and prolonged separations from their mothers within first 5 years than matched control group who weren't thieves.

Procedure: retrospective study comaring experiences of 44 thieves who'd been separated from their mother under age of 5, against 44 matched youngsters who weren't criminals. 50% of thieves were chronic offenders, and the control group was matched for intelligence and age.

Unstructured interviews used to gatehr rich, qualitative data about childhood. Children completed IQ tests and had a psychological assessment by a social worker. Info was shared with Bowlby who then interviewed child and mother about early separation or deprivation and its effect on the child's relationships.

Results: 32% of thieves were affectionless psychopaths. Of the 32% of affectionless psychopaths, 86% had experienced early separation before age of 5. 0% of control group were affectionless psychopaths. 

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Bowlby's 44 Juvenile Thieves

Conclusion: maternal deprivation can have severe and potentially long term effects on emotional development and can cause affectionless psychpathy. Effects can show up several years later and Bowlby said that once the attachment was broken, the negative effects could not be reversed.

+ in depth, detailed data gathered from many sources and triangulation so valid.
+ matched control group of similar children so findings could be compared. 14 thieves were affectionless compared to 0 in control, so Bowlby was able to link affectionless to theft.
- Bowlby said he wanted to use different 'normal' control group next time.
- covered many areas such as IQ, relationship with mother, but many other variables he didn't focus on such as experiences with father or maybe lack of affection is genetic. 

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Autism is a disorder of neural development, characterised by impaired social interaction and difficulty communicating. Autism affects information processing the brain. Characteristics of it include poor at empathising, difficulty forming relationships, ritualistic and repetitive behaviour and intolerance to change.

2 explanations of autism

1. Theory of Mind refers to ability to understand that other people's thoughts and understanding might be different to yours. Is seen in children from about the age of 2. It is lacking in autistic children. For example, if a child is playing with dolls and doll X hides a marble from doll Y, a child with theory of mind will understand that doll Y does not know where the marble is. Baren-Cohen & Frith carried this out with normal childre, children with Downs and children with autism. The autistic children couldn't understand that doll Y wouldn't know where the marble was but the other children did.

2. Extreme male brain refers to theory that autism links to the features of the male brain being exaggerated. Boys' brains grow more quickly than girls, and autistic brains grow even quicker. Boys are better at visuo-spatial tasks, autistic kids are even better. Putting above evidence together shows autism could be about having an extreme male brain (girls can have EMB too, doesn't conflict with existence of female autism). 

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How autism might affect a child's development
1. Someone with autism has trouble making friends because they find it hard to empathise or see another point of view (theory of mind). Bauminger and Kasari found autistic children have fewer friendships and were more lonely, but understood loneliness less.

2. Autistic children tend to have problems with communication, including learning language. There are sometimes difficulties with eye contact and non-verbal communication which is hard with regard to friendships as they rely on social interaction rests on communication. 

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Key issue - daycare and its effects on child devel

Why is daycare a key issue? Because there is a debate around is as to whether daycare is good or bad for a child and their development.It might not be that daycare is good or bad and ratehr than certain types are good or bad. It's important because society needs workers so working mothers are useful but it also needs well balanced functioning adults so early life is important too. QUANTITY AND QUALITY ARE IMPORTANT.

Factors affecting daycare
1. Quality of care – Anderson’s study suggests low staff turnover, high staff-child ratios, and a warm, nurturing and structured environment are the best conditions.
2. Duration of care – Belsky & Rovine highlighted that 20+ hours can be damaging. However, Clarke & Stewart argue that it is not significant.
3. Onset of care – Belsky maintains first year of life is where main attachments form and daycare in this time can produce insecure attachments.
4. Individual differences – researchers are examining effects of daycare on individual children as some are more able to cope with separation than others.
5. Background – research suggests that children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit greatly from daycare as it offers stimulation and education they might not get.

Howes found high-quality care leads to happier, confident and considerate children. Ruhm found daycare had negative effect on verbal, reading and maths skills.

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Aim: to see how UK media responded to a UNICEF report into childcare and to look at attitudes to daycare.

Gathering of the data: articles were sourced from online newspapers, published on the same day (11th December 2012). Data is primary, as I carried out the content analysis myself and the quantitative data such as tallying and the qualitative data of the themes were analysed by me. I reviewed the articles, and made tables of the most frequently recurring themes and these themes were then analysed using concepts and theories from the Child Psych approach. Data was analysed using tables which were put together from identifying key phrases/categories and then tallying how many times they arose from the two articles. The most common theme was ‘social, cognitive and linguistic development’ and the least common theme was ‘performance at school’.

Results: conflicting research as to effects of childcare (psychological damage and developmental difficulties, which were main themes). Concerns about effects of childcare might be justified but could be avoided if quality and quantity are monitored carefully.

Evaluation of using content analysis to investigate daycare
+ high ecological validity, based on real sources of info to indicate nature of media to which we are genuinely exposed.
- Findings are culture-dependent as the interpretation of written/spoken content is likely to be affected by language or culture, possibly making findings less generalisable or valid.

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