Developmental psychology

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Classical conditioning

  • Learning by association (EXAMPLE Pavlov dogs)



Baby associates food with pleasure however sees the caregiver and gives no response.


1. Baby sees food and feels pleasure. (Food is the unconditioned stimulus that produces an unconditioned response)

2. The caregiver (the neutral stimulus) and the food is then associated together and the baby responds.

3. The baby then reacts to the mother as it would to the food because the mother is associated with the food. (Mother has now become the conditioned response)


Infant learns that crying, smiling and laughing has positive consequences and receives food (primary reinforcer) from the caregiver (secondary reinforcer). Therefore the reward reinforces the action so the baby repeats it.

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Bowlby's Evolutionary Theory

Attachment is an innate proccess that serves an important evolutionary function.

Adaptive: attachment is an adaptive behaviour because it increases the infant's chance of suvival. A child who stays near to the caregiver will be less at risk from predators.

Social Releases: Crying, smiling and appearance. Which unlock innate tedency's for adults to care for them.

Critical Period: Babies form an attachment during the critical period. Between birth and 2 and a half years.

Rutter: comparing Romania orphans who were adopted by UK families with UK born adoptees who were placed in families before they were 6 months old. 58 babies were adopted before they were 6 months and 59 adopted between 6-24 months. Results showed that disinhibited attachments came from children who spent longer in institutional care.

Monotropy: the tedency of babies to form a primary attachment to one caregiver.

Internal Working Model: special mental schema for relationships. All future attachments based on this.

Hazan and Shaver: developed a 'love quiz' which consisted of two components = a measure of attachment (a checklist of childhood relationships) and a quiz that tested their individual beliefs on romantic love. Found a high correlation between the infant attachment types and adult romantic love styles, supports the internal working model.

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Research into cross-cultural variation in attachme

Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg (1988): carried out a review of research into 32 worldwide studies involving 8 countries and more then 2,000 infants.

  •  West Germany: 3 studies, 57% secure, 35% avoidant and 8% resistant.  
  • Great Britian: 1 study, 75% secure, 22% avoidant and 3% resistant.
  • Japan: 2 studies, 68% secure, 5% avoidant and 27% resistant.
  • USA: 18 studies, 65% secure, 21% avoidant and 14% resistant.

Shows that secure attachment was the most common in all countries.


  • Supports the idea that attachment has an innate basis because parents and children would appear quite similar.
  • Secure attachment would appear to be the 'norm' it is most common form of attachment.


  • Sample sizes: one study in GB may not be reasonable to draw conclusions.
  • Cultural differences: different norms and values in each culture.
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Disruption of attachment


  • Protest: the child screams and cries angrily hen the parent leaves. Likely to cling to the parent and escape from anyone who picks them up.
  • Despair: the child begins to calm although is still upset, child likely to refuse others attempts to comfort them and may appear to be withdrawn and uninterested.
  • Detachment: the child may begin to engage ith other people although thye may be wary, likely to reject the caregiver when they return.


  • Age of the child: between the ages of 1 and 1 and a half is said to be more severe.
  • Type of attachment
  • Gender
  • Substitute care
  • Experience of previous separations.

SEPARATION ANXETY: may manifest itself in:

  • Extreme clinginess.
  • Detachment.
  • Demanding.
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The effects of Maternal Deprivation


Goldfarb (1943): studied two groups of children - one was raised in total isolation in an institution whereas group 2 was raised in foster care. The 'institution' group lagged behind the 'foster' group on all measures taken including IQ, abstract thinking, social maturity and rule following.

Spitz and Spitz and Wolf: studied institutionalised in orphanages and hospitals. The institutions were poor quality and staff rarely interacted with the children. One third of institutionalised children died before the age of 1. The remainder failed to thrive and showed signs of depression. These symptons reversed if the period of maternal deprivation was less than three months. Spitz compared children living in an orphanage with others living in a penal institution where they were cared for by their mothers. The children in the orphanage were 'developmentally inferior.'

Bowlby (1994;1946): compared two groups of adolescent boys. One group had criminal records where the other group were emotionally disturbed. Found that 86% of the 'thieves' had experienced maternal deprivation early in life and showed signs of 'affectionless psychopathy'- they appeared incable of forming relationships with others.

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Case of isolation

CZEH TWINS (1976): identical twins who mother died giving birth. Lived with their aunt and in a children's home for the first year and a half of their life. Then went to live wih their father and stepmother. The father was of low intelligence and the stepmother was cruel. The boys were never allowed out of the house, kept in a unheated closet or in a cellar. When found the boys could not walk, were fearful and speech was very poor. After the correct care the boys went on the develop.

GENIE (1977)

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Hodges and Tizard (1989)

  • Conducted a longitundial study of children who spent at least the first two years of their lives in insitutions.
  • Taken from the insitutions and either returned to their biological parents or fostered.
  • Then compared with children raised normally by their own families.
  • The institutions provided good physical care and adequate intellectual stimulation. However staff turnover was high and the staff were discouraged from forming any strong attachments with the children. Therefore were only given the opportunity to form attachments once they had returned to their families or fostered.
  • Most of the adopted children formed attachments with their foster families by the age of 8 but little formed attachments to their biological families if they were returned to them.
  • Teachers felt the exinstitution group were more attention seeking, restless, disobidient and had poor peer relationships.
  • By the age of 16 the adopted children had good family relationships but those returned to their biological families still had poor family relations and had trouble showing thei parents affection.
  • The ex- institution children were still more likely to seek adult affection and approval, still more likely to have difficulties in their peer relationships, less likely to have a special friend and more likely to be friendly to any peer.
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Day care effects on peer relations

Andersson: studies out various studied in Sweden, those who attended day care were more likely to get along with their peers, more sociable and outgoing and had better abilities to play with their peers than children who did not go to daycare.

Clark-Stewart: compared the progress of 150 children who had experienced different kinds of day care and found that children who attended day nurseries had beeter social development then those looked after by ther family.

Field:argued children who attend day care take part in more cooperative play than those who attended day care part time.

Campbell, Lamb and Hwang: examined the quality of care but have not considered the quality of care that children recieve, which may be very important in relation to overall effects on children from Gothenburg in Sweden who attended childcare continuosly between the ages of 18 months and 3 and a half years. Observed the children before they started day care and were observed in their home with fimilar peers. The researcher assessed the standard of care the children recieved at home using Cadwell's HOME inventory, then after day care they observed them playing with other children they repeated this until they were 2 and a half and 3 and a half.

Findings: Long days in day care under 3 and a half years less socially competant. Those who attended more days per week were more socially competant. Younger children who experience long days get more frustrated and tired easily.


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Day care effects on aggression

Belsky: suggests that children who have experienced day care tend to show higher levels of problem behaviours including agression towards peers.

Maccoby and Lewis: argued that more hours spent in day care before the age of 4 and a half years, had a range of negative social outcomes including more behaviour problems at school.

Field: argued that teachers related children who had been to full time day care at more aggressive and assertive with their peers.

Borge et al:

  • Sample of 3,431 two to three year olds living in Canada compared to home-reared with day care children.
  • Maternal questionaires were used ot ask about the aggression shown by the child i.e. 'how often does your child kick, bite or hurt another child?'
  • Took into account the role of the family background by considering the occupational backgrounds of the parents, mothers education, nember of siblings and family functioning.
  • Aggression higher in home reared then in day care.
  • Quality most important when determining the effects on the child.
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Factors affecting day care

  • Individual differences. 
  • Culturally specifics.
  • Quality of day care.
  • Issues of class.
  • Practical applications.
  • Number of hours.
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