Developmental Approach

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  • Created by: Lou
  • Created on: 09-01-13 07:48


Attachment - Strong emotional bond, an emotional relationship between infants and their caregivers. 

  • seeking proximity
  • distress on separation
  • joy on reunion

Bond - One sided relationship e.g tom loves his cat but feelings are not returned 

Q. What is 'attachment'?


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Social Learning Theory 

Operant Conditioning (Skinner Box)

  • +/- reinforcement 
  • baby cries 
    • parent = -ve reinforcement 
    • baby = +ve reinforcement 

Classical Conditioning (Pavlov's Dogs) 

  • association 
  • baby see's parent = food + comfort = pleasure 
  • parent see's baby = love + feelings of need = pleasure 

+ explains social releases 

- can't generalise (study on animals)

+research supporting  

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  • innate = survival 
  • imprinting (+ Konrad Lorenz) 
  • only one care giver, monotropy (+ Konrad Lorenz) 
  • continuity hypothesis (infant attachment to later attachment) 
  • first 3 years is critical period to form attachment 
  • attachement = safe base

 + explains early behaviour 

+ research supporting 

- evidence against monotropy

- ignores fathers role

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Skinner Box - Operant Conditioning

Reinforcement - reward increases the behaviour it follows 

  • positive: pleasant stimulus is presented 
  • negative: an unpleasant stimulus is removed 
  • punishment: decreases the behaviour it follows 

Skinner worked on rats and pigeons to show that behaviour is learnt through reward and punishment. 

The rat is placed into a cage with an electric shock floor. When the rat does something that is not wanted it will be negatively reinforced by the electric shock. It is positively reinforced by learning that to press the lever will gain food pellets. 

Supporting social learning theory

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Pavlov's Dogs - Classical Conditioning 

  • associating with a stimulus 

Pavlov taught his dogs to associate the sound of the bell ringing to food so they started to salivate. Even when no food was around just the sound of the bell made the dogs salivate showing the association between the two. 

Supporting social learning theory 

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Konrad Lorenz 

Lorenz took half of a geese's eggs, at hatching time Lorenz made  sure that he was the first large moving object the the geese would see. Lorenz found that the goslings formed a rapid attachment to him and followed him around as if he was their mother. He then put his goslings with the naturally hatched goslings, they quickly split into two groups looking for own 'mother'.

Lorenz said this was due to imprinting, (to form an attachment to the first large moving object at birth)

Supporting the evolutionary theory  

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Harlow's Monkey's

The baby monkey had to fake figure mothers, one wire for food, and the other just soft fur for comfort. They found that the baby stayed with the comfort mother and just left when wanting food, suggesting that comfort is also needed not just food for survival

Also goes against the idea of monotropy. Monkeys who had no mother but grew up together had no signs of social or emotional disturbance, though they had no primary caregiver they seemed to attach to each other instead. 

Goes against evolutionary theory 

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Types of Attachments

Ainsworth Strange Situation

Looking at separation anxiety and stranger distress

8 situations:

  • mum + baby 
  • mum + baby +stranger 
  • mum + baby + stranger (tries to play with infant) 
  • baby + stranger (comforts if needed) 
  • mum + baby 
  • baby 
  • baby + stranger 
  • mum + baby 
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Types of Attachments

Ainsworth Strange Situation 

  • Secure:
    • content with mother
    • cries attachment leaves
    • happy on return 
  • Insecure-avoidant:
    • ignored mother
    • didn't mind if mother left
    • stranger could comfort 
  • Insecure-resistant
    • uneasy around mother 
    • upset when left 
    • resisted strangers 
    • hard to comfort on mothers return

+ observational          - westernised 

+ big sample size       - unfamiliar setting 

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Cultural Variation

Some cultural differences are found, though may be how the country value independancy such as Germany where insecure aviodant is seen as a good thing. 


  • Israeli babies. Looked after by nursery, see parents once a week. Insecure resistant


  • African tribes, no variation between or America and England
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Cultural Variation

Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg

  • meta-analysis of 32 strange situation studies in multiple countries
  • the percentages of children classified as secure and insecure were very similar across the countries tested
  • secure attachments were the most common type of attachment
  • Western countries there were more insecure avoidant than resistant 
  • Non-western had more insecure resistant than avoidant
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Disruption to Attachment


  • no attachment ever 
  • Genie 11 years alone in room only contact when getting food + water once a day, they did not recover 
  • Czech twins, 7 years in isolation, they recovered 
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Disruption to Attachment


  • attachment broken for a short period of time
  • John, care for 9 days
  • protest, dispair, detachment 
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Disruption to Attachment


  • care but no attachement formed
  • Rutter
    • longitudinal study in orphanage
    • stayed = distrupted, trouble, aggressive 
    • back to parents = aggressive, bad attachment 
    • adopted = secure 
  • Tizard and Hodges 
    • Romanian orphans + UK orphans compared 
    • Romanian when joined were weak and poor cognitive ability but when adopted quickly caught up with the UK
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Day Care

4 Types:

  • informal (family) 
  • nurseries 
  • nannnies 
  • day care centre

Social Affects 

  • Campbell
    • informal = +language skills 
    • nurseries = +social skills

Good day care 

  • good staff training 
  • good space 
  • toys and activities 
  • low staff to child ratio 
  • low staff turnover
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