Early Social Development

Part of the first Psychology AQA exam

HideShow resource information

Learning Theory (Nurture)

Learning theory uses the principles of conditioning to say how behaviour is acquired

Classical Coniditioning & Operant Conditioning

  • Dogs salivate when they feed so salivation is a UR to an US (unconditional stimulus, food) the US and UR are innately linked. If a bell represents food being presented the bell comes the NS (neutral stimulus) so now the bell produces saliva and so now a CS and saliva is a CR so a new behaviour has been learnt.
  • An animal is placed where food will be given if a lever is pulled, first the animal will accidently hit the lever and is given food, this reward will increase the chance of the animal repeating the behaviour and so will do it again, the same if the lever gives a shock the animal is less likely to do it again
  • Learning theory predicts that an infants attachment will be to those that give it greatest pleasure or drive reduction (person that feeds them) this was proven false by Emerson. 
  • Learning theory is critized for being reductionist
1 of 5

Bowlby's Theory (Nature)

3 Important features to Bowlby's

  • Infants and carers are 'programmed' to become attached
  • As attachment is biological, it takes place during critical period or not at all
  • Attachment plays a role in later development (continuity hypothesis)

Innate Programming;- all psychological and physical characteristics are naturally selected because it helps individuals to survive and reproduce (this is PASSIVE) This means all infants are born to be 'programmed' to become attached and adults are also programmed to become attached to infants, this is demonstrated through social releasers (crying etc.)    Critical Period;-  concept of critical period is that if a child does not form an attachment before the age of 2.5 years then it isn't possible thereafter                                                                Continuity Hypothesis;- Relationship with one special attachment figure (monotropy) provides an internal working model of relationships. Secure children develop a positive working model for themselves, this provides an explanation of the fact that early patterns of         attachment relate to later characteristics.

2 of 5

Secure & Insecure Attachment - Ainsworth (Strange

Roughly 100 middle-class American infants and their mothers took part in this study

  • Mother & child left alone so child can investigate toys
  • Stranger enter room and talks to mother, gradually stranger approaches child
  • Mother leaves child alone with stranger, stranger interacts with child
  • Mother returns to greet and comfort child
  • The child is left alone
  • Stranger returns and tries to engage with child
  • Mother returns, greets and picks up child. Stranger leaves inconspicuously
  • Separation anxiety was observed
  • Stranger anxiety was observed
  • Infants willingness to explore was observed
  • reunion behaviour was observed

Securely attached (Type B) explored room, subdued when mother left & greeted her positively                 Avoidant-insecure infants (Type A) didn't orientate around mother when exploring. not care about her departure and showed little interest in her return                                                                                   Resistant-insecure infants - intense distress when mother let and rejected her on return  

The findings and conclusions are culturally biased. Type D disorganized showed inconsistent behaviour

3 of 5

Cross-Cultural variations Takahashi

60 middle-class Japanese infants aged yr1 both genders and their mothers, were all raised at home, they were watched in the strange situation

  • 68% of infants classified as securely attached (close to the American sample)
  • No infants classed as Avoidant-insecure
  • the 'infant alone' step was stopped for 90% of infants due to distress - so many more may be type B
  • Findings suggest that there are cross-cultural variations in the way infants respond to separation
  • Avoidant behaviour in this sample was non-existent 
  • Conclusion is that the strange situation is different among all cultures
  • Research with infants needs to be especially careful in terms of psychological harm
  • Takahashi's study was only on a limited sample of middle-class home-reared infants.

4 of 5

The Effects of Deprivation ( 44 thieves )

Test the maternal deprivation hypothesis (frequent early separations associated with risk of behavioural disorders)

  • Participants were 88 children ranging from 5 - 16 who had to been referred to the clinic
  • 44 of the children were thieves, 16 of these were identified as 'affectionless psychopaths' 
  • Bowlby created a record of their early life through interviews
  • 86% of those 'affectionless psychopaths' had experiened prolonged separations from their mothers
  • Only 17% of non'affectionless psychopaths' had experiences such separations
  • 4% of the non-thieves (control group) had experienced frequent early separations
  • These findings suggest link between early separations and later social & emotional maladjustment
  • Maternal deprivation appears to lead to affectionless psychopathy, or less sever can lead to theft
  • The evidence is correlated so cant make a cause-and-effect relationship
  • data on separation was collected retrospectively and may not therefore be reliable
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »