Developmental Psychology

HideShow resource information

Explanations of Attachment: The Learning Theory

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: ASSOCIATIVE LEARNING 

Conditioning occurs when there is successful association between stimulus and resoponse. 

OPERANT CONDITIONING 

Attachment process is moulded by positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment. 

1 of 13

Explanations of Attachment: Evolutionary Theory

This theory suggests that we are biologically programmed to form attachment as the behaviour has survival value. 

BOWLBY'S THEORY 

  • Monotropy: children only form one strong attachment which is usually to the mother 
  • Critical Period: the time in which attachment must take place. 
  • Internal Working Models: If a healthy and secure attachment is formed then it will provide good social, emotional and intellectual development for child and for developing a positive internal working model of the self. 
  • Continuity Hypothesis: it is suggested that if a healthy and secure attachment is formed with the primary caregiver then the child will proceed into later life being able to form good relationships. 
  • Social Releasers: these are innate behaviours that the child or parent display in order to elicit a response. 
2 of 13

Bowlby's Research 1944

THE 44 JUVENILE THEIVES

Bowlby aimed to investigate the maternal deprivation hypothesis.  The well being of 5-16 years olds was assessed by using clinical interviews. 88 children were then referred to the clinic to be assessed by Bowlby. 44 of these children had been referred because of persistent stealing. Bowlby classified 16% of these thieves as being affectionless psychopaths. 86% of those being diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths had experiences early or prolonged neglect from their mothers. He concluded that separation from a mother is strongly linked to affectionless psychopathy. 

3 of 13

The Strange Situation: Details

This is an experiment devised by Mary Ainsworth which measured the quality of an infant's attachment to their caregiver. The experiement occurs in several stages.

  • Infant and mother are brought into a comfortable laboratory room,
  • a stranger enters and makes conversation with the mother and then the infant,
  • the mother leaves,
  • the mother returns and the stranger leaves,
  • the mother then leaves again, the infant is now alone,
  • the stranger returns, then the mother returns.

These 7 episodes last 3 minutes unless the infant shows more than mild distress. 

4 of 13

The Strange Situation: Findings

THE ATTACHMENT TYPES 

  • Type A, Insecure Avoidant: 20% of infants display this attachment indicated by behaviour that shows the infant being independent to an extreme degree and not orientating to the caregiver upon separation or reunion. Infants with this attachment have an internal working model which views themselves as unacceptable caused by a carer who is rejecting.
  • Type B, Secure: 70% of infants display this attachment indicated by behaviour that shows infant seeking interaction with the caregiver and is anxious during separation; upon reunion they are quickly comforted. Infants with this attachment have a positive working model where their caregiver is emotionally available. 
  • Type C, Insecure Resistant: 10% of infants display this attachment indicated by behaviour that shows the infant who remains close to the caregiver before separation and is overly anxious when the care giver leaves. Upon reunion the infant exhibits both avoidant and approach behaviour and they take longer to be comforted. Infants with this attachment have a negative self image and exaggerate their responses to gain attention, this results from a caregiver that is inconsistent. 
5 of 13

Cultural Variations in Attachment: Key Study

In 1988 Van Ijzendoorn conducted a meta analysis of 32 strange situation experiments in carried out in 8 countries. Secure attachment was the most common, particularly in western cultures such as the UK. In Germany there were high levels of insecure aviodant attachment. In eastern cultures such as Israel and Japan there are high levels of insecure resistant attachment. 

6 of 13

Cultural Variations in Attachment: Explanation

GROSSMAN ET AL 1991 

This researcher claims that the result of a high percentage of insecure avoidant infants in Germany is a consequence of cultural beliefs rather than of insecure attachment. Parents in Germany encourage independence is their children. 

TAKAHASHI 1990 

This researcher also claims that a high percentage of incsecure resistant infants in Japan is also a consequence of cultural beliefs. Japanese children are rarely left alone, this explains why they experienced such distress in the strange situation; it was a situation they have never experienced before. 

7 of 13

Disruption to Attachment: Hospitilisation

ROBERTSON & BOWLBY 

They filmed a 2 year old girl called Laura when she was admitted into hospital for an 8 day minor operation. Over the course of the 8 days, Robertson & Bowbly observed Laura deteriorating and by the end of her stay she was withdrawn and no longer showed trust or affection toward her mother. Observations of other children informed Robertson & Bowlby that there are stages children go through when experiencing this form of separation. The idea they proposed was the PDD Model. 

THE PDD MODEL 

  • Protest: initially the child will show distress and will cry frequently. They will also attempt to stop their parents from leaving 
  • Despair: the child will cry less frequently and become apatheic and uninterested in their environment. 
  • Detachment: the child will gradually show interest in their environment however they will reject their primary care giver. 
8 of 13

Disruption to attachment: Privation

GENIE: A CASE STUDY OF EXTREME PRIVATION CURTISS 1977

At age 13 Genie was discovered by the authorities after being kept in virtual isolation by her parents. She was severely under developed, only ate baby food, could not talk and had a strange gait. She was placed in a children's hospital for a year and then went to live with her therapist David Rigler. He was in charge of the research project that aimed to investigate whether Genie could develop language or if she had passed the critical period for linguistic development. During her time at hospital and with her therapist she made good progress. According to Curtiss she made a years progress for every year after her discovery. However her development was hindered when there was a legal battle over custody of her and she regressed dramatically. It was concluded that extreme privation has severe effects, however if the subject is placed in quality care then the effects can be reversed to some extent. 

9 of 13

Disruption to Attachment: Institutionalisation

TIZARD AND HODGES 1989 A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF EX-INSTITUTIONALISED CHILDREN 

The researchers investigated the effect institutional care had on children's development. The study lasted for sixteen years and involved various measures such as interviews, questionnaire and a screening test. The participants involved were children who had been in institutional care since at least 2 years old. 

  • At age 4 most children had formed attachments with their parents,however 1/3 were reported as being attention seeking.
  • At age 8 ex-institutionalised children had developed adequate language and cognitive skils however at school they were attention seeking and less populat than other children.
  • At age 16 adopted children had close relationships with their parents compared to restored children however they were still reported as being less popular than their peers. 

Findings from this study concluded that children are still able to form attachments later than the critical period, however such children still experience some developmental problems in comparison with children who never experienced institutionalised care. 

10 of 13

Day Care Effects on Peer Relations

SYLVA ET AL 2003 THE EPPE PROJECT 

The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project investigated early provision and its impact on cognitive development and peer relations. The program looked at the implementation of different types of early provision: 

  • Local authority nurseries
  • day nurseries
  • nursery schools
  • nursery classes
  • centres combining education and care

The study found that attendance at pre-school improved cognitive development as well as peer relations.

11 of 13

Influences of Research on Child Care Practices

HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS 

The work of Robertson and Bowlby suggest that contact between infant and caregiver should not bedisrupted thus, in modern day hospitals parents are advised to stay overnight with their child. 

ADOPTION 

Bowlby emphasised the importance of a strong early attachment to the primary caregiver thus the majority of adoptions are completed within the first week of birth. 

SURE START LOCAL PROGRAMME 

The aim of this program is to enhance the life chances of young children by improving early provision or implementing new ones where necessary. 

12 of 13

Influences of Research on Child Care Practices

HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS 

The work of Robertson and Bowlby suggest that contact between infant and caregiver should not bedisrupted thus, in modern day hospitals parents are advised to stay overnight with their child. 

ADOPTION 

Bowlby emphasised the importance of a strong early attachment to the primary caregiver thus the majority of adoptions are completed within the first week of birth. 

SURE START LOCAL PROGRAMME 

The aim of this program is to enhance the life chances of young children by improving early provision or implementing new ones where necessary. 

13 of 13

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »