Strong, enduring, emotional and reciprocal relationship between two people, each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of the attachment figure.
Why do we form them?
Food and care
Education in survival/Protection
Relationships and attchment to own children
Friendship and romantic relationships
Seeking proximity-The infant tries to stay close to its ‘attachment figure’
General Orientation-The infant is aware of the caregiver at all times and may frequently make contact for reassurance.
Separation anxiety-Caregiver and infant both experience feelings of distress when separated
Joy of reunion-Obvious pleasure is shown when the child is reunited with the caregiver
Stages of Attachment Schaffer and Emerson, 1964
Asocial stage 0 – 6 weeks-Smiling and crying, not directed at any special individuals. Indiscriminate attachment 6 weeks – 7 months-Attention sought from different individuals. Specific attachments 7 – 11 months-Strong attachment to one individual. Good attachments to others often follow.
Theories of Attachment -Behavioural Approach
What is it?
The idea that we are born as “blank slates”,all we have at birth is the capacity to learn, all behaviour is learned from the environment and the focus of the approach: observable behaviour.
Learning through association (learning to associate a reflex response with a new stimulus). The provision of food as important in the formation of an attachment.
Applying to Attachment
According to learning theories, the baby has to learn to form an attachment with their primary caregiver (PCG). By the process of classical conditioning, the baby forms an association between the PCG (a neutral stimulus) and the feeling of pleasure that comes from being fed (an innate, unconditioned response).At first, the baby simply feels comforted by food However each time they are fed, the PCG is there too. The baby quickly associates the PCG with the pleasure of being fed.Before long, the PCG stimulates a feeling of pleasure in the baby on their own, even without food.This is the beginning of attachment.
Theories of Attachment-Behavioural Approach
Learning that takes place because of consequences of behaviour.Behaviours that are followed by a positive consequence (e.g. reward) are likely to be repeated; those that are punished are not usually repeated.
Key Terms Positive reinforcement-A pleasant consequence of behaviour that increases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated.
Negative reinforcement-An unpleasant experience is removed after a behaviour or action is made. Therefore increasing the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated. Punishment-A stimulus that weakens behaviour because it is unpleasant and we try to avoid it
Linked to Attachment
Baby has to learn to form an attachment with their primary caregiver (PCG). In the process of operant conditioning, the PCG rewards the infant by feeding them, so the infant associates the PCG with the reward, and repeats any action that brings them close. This happens because food brings a feeling of pleasure to the baby. Food is a primary reinforcer by removing discomfort, it reinforces the behaviour that led to its arrival.But food never comes without the primary caregiver bringing it, so the PCG becomes the secondary reinforcer – even without bringing food, the presence of the caregiver reduces discomfort and brings a feeling of pleasure. The baby will therefore repeat any action, e.g. crying, which brings the caregiver close. The infant has therefore become attached
Behavioural Approach Evaluation
Harlow 1962.Investigate evidence for learning theories using infant monkeys.Infant monkeys taken from mothers, reared in isolation and placed in a cage with two mock monkeys. One made from wire mesh, with teat to provide milk, other was same size and shape but no provide any food. Instead it was covered in soft cloth. Behaviour of infant monkey was observed. ‘Drumming bear’ introduced into cage to act as a frightening stimulus. Learning theories would suggest that the infant monkey would run to the wire mesh monkey when scared because they suggest that attachments are formed from the pleasure derived from food. i.e. an infant pairs their satisfaction from food with the primary caregiver. Even though it did not provide any pleasure from food, when frightened the infant monkey always sought comfort in the soft mother substitute. This entirely challenges ‘cupboard love’ theories. Clearly the infant forms attachments due to ‘contact comforts’ and not on the basis of food alone.
Operant Conditioning suggests that positive reinforcements encourage behaviours to be repeated whilst punishments discourage particular behaviours. However, this contradicts evidence with infants still showing strong attachments to primary caregivers who are abusive.
It can provide an adequate explanation of how attachments form: there is supporting evidence to suggest that we do learn through association and reinforcement.
Theories of Attachment-Evolutionary Theory
Bowlby put forward an important theory of attachment. He saw humans as being just like other animals – we have an innate tendency to form attachments with a caregiver. This tendency gives us an adaptive advantage, i.e., makes it more likely that we will survive.
Innate-Unconscious need controlled by our genes.They are naturally selected due to increasing our chances of survival and therefore reproducing.
Adaptive-They give our species an ‘adaptive advantage’, making us more likely to survive.This is because if an infant has an attachment to a caregiver, they are kept safe, given food, and kept warm.
Social releasers-Babies have Social releasers, which ‘unlock’ the innate tendency of adults to care for them. These Social releasers are both: Physical – the typical ‘baby face’ features and body proportions or behavioural – e.g. crying, cooing.
Sesitive Period-Babies have to form the attachment with their caregiver during a sensitive period. This is between birth and 2½ years old. Bowlby said that if this didn’t happen, the child would be damaged for life – socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
Monotropy-Bowlby believed that infants form one very special attachment with their mother. This special, intense attachment is called Monotropy. If the mother isn’t available, the infant could bond with another ever-present, adult, a mother-substitute.
Internal working model-Through the attachment, the infant would form an Internal working model. This is a special mental schema (plan) for relationships.
Continuation hypothesis-By using the internal working model, all the child’s future adult relationships will be based on this schema. This is known as the continuation hypothesis.
Secure base-Attachments provide a secure base for exploration. A child often uses the attachment figure as a point of security during exploration and play. Exploration is hugely important for mental and cognitive development.
Evolutionary Theory Evaluation
Lorenz carried out an experiment with grey lag geese. He set two experimental conditions.1st condition he was the first moving object seen by the goose chicks after they hatched, 2nd mother goose was the first moving object seen by the chicks after they hatched. Lorenz found that: The chicks who saw him before anything else, followed him as if he was their mother. The chicks who saw their mother first, followed her when young.Lorenz also found that goose chicks seemed to have a ‘CRITICAL PERIOD’ of just a few hours in which to imprint (form an attachment). If they didn’t imprint (attach) within this time, they never would.
There is evidence to support aspects of Bowlby’s theory, for instance the Minnesota longitudinal study 2005 found consistency between early emotional experiences and later relationships.
Bowlby may also have over-estimated the importance of a mother though he did accept that a ‘mother-figure’ could provide a satisfactory attachment. Lamb’s studies have shown that male infants often show a preference for their father than their mothers.
Reductionist: Bowlby’s theory is too simplistic to explain a very complex process. In the modern world, where infants no longer need protection from predators, attachment still seems to play a crucial role in forming bonds between the infant and the adults around him.
Mary Ainsworth 1970
To test the strenths and types of attachment
1.Mother and baby plays. Baby allowed to explore (general orientation) – stimulates play if necessary
2.Stranger enters room and tries to interact
3.Mother leaves the room (1st separation anxiety).
4.Stranger attempts to comfort infant (1st stranger anxiety)
5.Mother returns and the stranger leaves, comforts baby – settles baby in play (1st reunion)
6.Mother leaves saying “bye-bye” - baby is alone (2nd separation anxiety)
7.Stranger enters –attempts to comfort infant (2nd stranger anxiety)
8.Mother enters, greets and picks up baby (2nd reunion)
This study can be praised for allowing both the test retest and inter-rater reliability techniques to be used. Thsi is because the observation can be repeated on the same infants using some procedure to see if you get the same results. Two or more researchers could observe the infants in the strange situation and common behaviours recorded recorded. This is good because you can check reliablility.
This study can be criticised for only using 100 Americans therefor, it can only be applied to Americans. The ecological validity would be bad because it was not in the infants natural enviroment eg home it was in a controlled artificial setting involving observing the child through a one way mirror . This si bad because the results cant be generalised to the would population or real life setting.
This study can eb criticised for lack of protection from harm. This is because the infant in the strange situation may become psycholiogically harmed from the stranger or separation anxiety. This is bad because it's the right of the participant to be protcted from psychological harm.
Type B - Secure Attachment - 66%
Separation anxiety-Distressed when mother leaves. Stranger anxiety-Avoidant of stranger when alone but friendly when mother present. Behaviour-Positive and happy when mother returns. Description-Use the mother as secure base to explore environment. Have parents who respond quickly, appropriately to cries and are sensitive to their needs.
Type C - Insecure Resistant - 12%
Separation anxiety-Shows signs of intense distress. Stranger anxiety-Avoids the stranger and shows fear of stranger. Behaviour-Approaches mother but resists contact, may even push her away. Description-Cries more, explores less than the other 2 types. Inconsistent mothers who discourage independence.
Type A - Insecure Avoidant - 22%
Separation anxiety-IShows no sign of distress when mother leaves. Stranger anxiety-Okay with the stranger and plays normally when stranger is present. Behaviour-Little interest when mother returns. Description-Mother and stranger are able to comfort infant equally well. They have parents who display a distant attitude and rejecting behaviour (especially of physical contact).
Type D - Insecure disorganizes - <1
Main (1991) identified fourth attachment. Fearful of strangers, have resistant relationship with caregiver. Dazed and confused, with no way of dealing with separation or reunion. Linked to dysfunction in the family, e.g. drug use,divorce, rejection and abuse.
Factors Effecting Attachment
Mothers of securely attached infants were more sensitive.
Mothers of insecurely attached infants were more unresponsive and less affectionate.
Mothers of avoidant infants were more rejecting.
Mothers of resistant infants tended to be occupied with other activities when holding the infant. Infant temperament
Both mother’s and infant’s temperament should be considered
Infants form secure attachments because they are innately more friendly than other infants.
Kagan (1990) suggested that inhibited(shy) infants would withdraw from the stressful Strange Situation irrespective of attachment whereas uninhibited infants would be more relaxed and friendly
Culture Variations of Attachment
The group is valued over the individual
Emphasis is on group effort and cooperation (e.g. Japan)
Focus on interpersonal development of infants
More favourable reaction to obedience and social behaviour
Less anti-social behaviour
The individual is valued over the group
Emphasis is on personal achievement (e.g. USA)
Focus on developing initiative in infants
Mothers react favourably to independence (USA)
More anti-social behaviour
Culture Variations of Attachment
Van Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg 1988
Van Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg carried out a META-ANALYSIS to find out about attachments types in different cultures. Wanted to find out: Whether the proportions of secure (B), insecure avoidant (A) and insecure resistant (C) children were the same in all cultures and how much inter-cultural variation.
On average the results from Van Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg are similar to the original results.For every country the hghest percent of of of attachment was ecure. Overall the insecure avpoidant attachment style is typically the lowest in collectivists cultures. Individualistic culture have a higher percentage of insecure avoidant but a lower percentage of insecure resistant. The mean results were similar to the original study typpe a 20%, type b 65% and type c 15%.
To see if strange situation is vaid in cultures other than America. 60 middle class Japanese infants aged 1 boy and girls. Infants all raised at home.
68% securelt attached. No infant were insecure avoidant. 32% insecure resistant. Infanst were more disturbed when left alone (step was taken out fo 90% infants).
Cross cultural variations in infants response to separation being left alone. They experience less seperation in early years. No infants found as insecure avoidant. Does not have same meaning for Japanese as Americans therefore, not valid form of assessment of attachment in that culture.
Disruption of Attachment
This is a term used to describe when an infant has formed an attachment but it has either been permanently or temporarily disrupted.
Studies-Robertson & Robertson and Bowbly 44 thieves
This is the term used to describe the lack (or absence) of attachment due to a failure to form an attachment between infant and primary caregiver.
Studies- Curtiss-Genie and Koluchova -Czech Twins
This is a term used to describe infants who are raised in care homes from an early age
Studies-Hodges & Tizard and Rutter
Robertson and Robertson 1960s
Procedure: An infant spent most of his time in a residential nursery whilst his mother was hospitalised. His behaviour was observed by researchers.
Results: For the first few days, the infant’s response was one of protest. He attempted to gain attention and form attachments with the nurses. They did not respond to the infants demands. After a few days, the infant demonstrated despair; he cried, refused food and had difficulties sleeping. Finally, he seemed to give up all together, his behaviour showed detachment. He stopped trying to attract attention and showed little interest in other people. When the mother returned the infant refused to be comforted.
Conclusion: Children who have formed an attachment to a caregiver will go through three stages in a separation: protest, despair and detachment
This study can be praised for high ecological validity. This is because the research took place in a naturalistic environment, the residential nursery, therefore the infant is likely to have shown his natural behaviour.This is good because results can be generalised to other similar settings.
This study can be criticised due to lack of control over extraneous variables. This is because it was in a naturalistic environment and there may have been other factors influencing his behaviour other than the separation from his primary care giver, e.g. the quality of care provided.This is bad because it reduces the internal validity of this study.
Bowlby 44 Thieves 1951
If attachment (monotropy) did not take place it would cause the infant long term social and emotional problems in later life (delinquency). This is known as maternal deprivation hypothesis.
Bowlby wanted to investigate whether separation in early life would cause behavioural problems in later life. 88 children were referred to a child guidance counsellor, 44 children were reported as being thieves and 44 were emotionally disturbed who did not steal. 17 of the thieves had experienced frequent separations from their mothers before the age of two, compared with 2 in the control group. 14 of the thieves were diagnosed as ‘affectionless psychopaths’ (they didn’t care about how their actions affected others). 12 of these 14 had experienced separation from their mothers. For Bowlby this seemed to suggest that early deprivation was responsible for later delinquency.
This study can be criticised for results not being 100% conclusive.This is because only 17 out of the 44 thieves had experienced deprivation before the age of 2. Also only 12 out of 14 thieves diagnosed as ‘affectionless psychopaths’ had experienced deprivation.This is bad because there must be other factors explaining the other thieves behaviour apart from deprivation
Reported the case of the Genie. Genie spent most of her childhood locked away in a room in LA. She had very little contact with other members of her family and she was discouraged from making sounds. Genie was found in 1970 when she was 13½; she could not stand unaided, feed herself and had very poor social skills. Genie began to develop attachments with her initial foster carers, however after a settled period in care she was moved to a succession of short term carers some of which abused her. Genie was eventually reunited with her mother who refused any more psychological access. It is believed that Genie still has limited language skills and may have been mentally retarded prior to her period of privation.
These studies can be praised for the use of the case study method
These studies can be criticised for lacking population validity
These studies can be criticised for possible extraneous variables influencing the results
Koluchova - Czech Twins 1976
Male twins PM & JM were born in Czechoslovakia in 1960. Their mother died shortly after birth so spent 11 months in a children’s home and living with an aunt. They were returned to their father, who had low intellect and their stepmother who was brutal. They were kept in a cupboard or cellar and subject to regular beatings before they were found when they were 7. When they were found they had poor speech, rickets and couldn’t walk. They were adopted by twin sisters. At 14 no long term ill effects. Later life employed and had successful relationships.
These studies can be praised for the use of the case study method
These studies can be criticised for lacking population validity
These studies can be criticised for possible extraneous variables influencing the results
Hodges and Tizard 1989
Sixty-five children who had been taken into care before the age of four months formed an opportunity sample.A matched pairs design was employed with the institutionalised children being compared to a control group of children raised at home. Assessment took the form of interviews with the children, parents/adoptive parents and teachers and questionnaires about attitudes and behaviour.
On average the institutionalised children had been looked after by 24 different carers by the age of 2. By the age of 4 years, 24 had been adopted, 15 restored to their biological parents and the remaining infants stayed at the institution. At the age of four, the institutionalised children had not formed any attachment (control children had formed an attachment with their primary caregiver). By the age of eight, a significant difference emerged between the institutionalised children who had been adopted and those who were restored to their biological parents. The adopted children demonstrated much closer and stronger attachment to their caregivers. The adopted group also demonstrated better emotional adjustment. Negative social effects of delayed attachment formation were evident in all institutionalised children. These children demonstrated difficulty in forming peer relationships and the need to seek adult attention (a sign of disinhibited attachment).
Some effects of privation can be reversed; however some privation effects are long lasting and often shown in difficulties at school.It is believed that negative effects of privation were overcome by the adopted parents due to the presence of a loving nurturing environment. Quality of aftercare is extremely important in reversing the effects of privation in infants.
+Rich and detailed data collected in the interviews. Cause and effect can be identified
-There are fewer controls over extraneous variables which can reduce the internal validity of the study. It was not possible to control who was adopted and who was restored to their biological parents – may have been individual differences that acted as confounding variables
Rutter carried out a longitudinal study on 100 Romanian orphans who had been adopted by British carers. All the orphans had experienced severe privation before their adoption.Rutter compared these adopted children to UK born adoptees who were also placed with British families.The Romanian orphan’s development was continually assessed and compared at ages four, six and eleven year.
Romanian infants who were adopted before the age of six months showed ‘normal emotional development’.
However, Romanian adoptees after the first six months of life demonstrated ‘disinhibited attachment’.
Long term consequences may be less severe than was once thought if the children have the opportunity to form attachments.
Those infants that stayed within institutionalised care for a longer period showed the greatest problems in later life.
Child minder-Child often goes to another persons home, often with other children.
Nursery-Often in the community, with other children. Can be in the workplace
Nannies/Au pairs-Carer lives with you or comes to your house to look after your children.
Relative-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles etc. Can be in your house or theirs. Often with siblings.
Good Day Care
Low adult-to-child ratio
Trained and experienced staff
Committed & dedicated staff
Bad Day Care
Boring and repetitive activities
Small and dirty enviroment
High staff turn over
Campbell & Lamb
Campbell & Lamb (2000) Day care vs. Home care
Group of 48 children from Sweden who all attended childcare continuously between the ages of 18 months to 3½ years. Sample was compared to another group of children whose parents applied for day care places, but were unsuccessful due to competition.Before attending day care at 18 months, the children were observed in their home environment playing with their peers. Once they started day care, the children were observed for 30 minutes playing with their peers. Aged 6½, the social competence of all children was assessed. The carers were asked to provide detailed information about the child’s social skills. Aged 8½, the class teachers were asked to give their perception of the child’s social behaviours. Aged 15, participants visited at home and completed a self-report of their social development.
Results-Children who spent long days (e.g. 8am-6pm) in day care under the age of 3½ years found to be less socially competent. However those who attended more days, but for a shorter period were more socially competent. Children who attended high quality care before the age of 3 ½ developed better social abilities. There was also a correlation between social competence with children aged 3½ and 15 years. Children who were competent at 3½ had social competency aged 15yrs. This implies that the children’s social skills are largely developed by 3½ years. This suggests that good quality day care at least to 3½ years of age is important for a child’s social competency throughout childhood and into adolescen.
Conclusion-The effects of day-care largely depend on the amount of day-care experienced whilst under the age of 3 ½ and the length of time in the day-care. Social competency seems to be largely developed by the age of 3 ½ and does affect social skills/relationships during adolescent years.
Evaluation -By following the children from 18 months into adolescence allows researchers to establish long term effects. Children were assessed before they started day care providing us with a clear baseline of their social skills at the start of the study. Range of data from a variety of sources provides a rich, in-depth picture of the child’s social abilities. Participant attrition may be a problem due to the fact it is a longitudinal study. Lacks population validity. Results may be biased due to the use of self report techniques where socially desirable responses used.
Evaluation of Day Care
Assessing the effects of day care on children is not easy, due to the huge variation in types and quality of day care.
High quality day care leads to positive developmental outcomes. However, in many countries, only the wealthy can afford the high quality day care and the vast majority of children experience lower quality day care leading to negative consequences.
Most research is correlational, therefore cause and effect cannot be established. Other variables may be involved, like working mothers being more stressed and contributing to heightened levels of aggression and poorer peer relations.
Different methods of rating children’s behaviour may lead to different findings.
Borge et al
Borge et al (2004) Early child care and physical aggression
To test the claims that group day care is associated with increased risks of physical aggression
Data from maternal questionnaires of 3,431 Canadian 2-4yr olds were used to compare rates of physical aggression shown by children raised at home by their mothers and those attending a group day care. Data collection was undertaken by a single home visit with the person most knowledgeable about the child, in 90% of cases this was the mother. A family risk index, using occupation status, maternal education, the number of siblings and degree of family functioning, was utilised to assess the contribution of family features to aggression levels.
Aggression was more common in children raised by their mothers than those attending group day care.Analysis centred on whether higher rates of aggression occurred within certain subgroups and after taking family features into consideration (which were found to be associated with levels of aggression).Physical aggression was found to more common in children from high-risk families raised at home. Such families had low levels of maternal education, three or more siblings, low socio-economic status and poor family functioning.
Home care is associated with high levels of aggression in pre-school children, especially those from high-risk families.
As a large, representative sample was used and the effects of family features were taken into account, the validity of the findings is increased. Group day care seems to protect against aggression for children from high-risk families, possibly as day care lessens the child’s exposure to family risk or because it provides positive learning opportunities not available at home. Correlational research – difficulty in establish cause and effect.