Attachment and Memory Psychologists

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  • Created on: 23-11-12 17:24

Harlow - Attachment

Harlow's Monkeys (1959)

Infant monkeys were placed in cages with 2 'surrogate' mothers. One made from wire with food attached and the other made of soft and cuddly cloth. The monkeys formed an attachment to the cloth mother. They still went the wire mother for food but didn't stay after they has finished eating. They always went to the cloth mother for comfort and security, never the wire one!

Strengths- reliable and valid

Weaknesses - unethical(no protection from harm), animal research so cant be generalised to humans.


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Lorenz - Attachment


Lorenz observed that after a critical period, goslings learn to follow the first conspicuous, moving object they see – this does not necessarily have to be the mother, it can be anything. This process of imprinting involves visual and auditory stimuli from the ‘parent’ object which elicit a following response in the young that affects their subsequent adult behaviour.

In one experiment, Lorenz demonstrated this by appearing before newly hatched ducklings and imitating a mother’s quacks. The young birds regarded him as their mother and followed him accordingly.

In another experiment, half a set of eggs were removed from a mother goose and hatched by Lorenz. These goslings then followed Lorenz. Subsequently, Lorenz mixed up these goslings with the other half of their brood. When they were released, the goslings followed their own original attachment figure.

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Bowlby - Attachment

According to Bowlby, children have an innate drive to become attached to a caregiver, which has long term benefits, including protection, a secure base to interact and learn about the enviornment.

4 Key Ideas ;

Social releasers - infants are born with characteristics that elicit caregiving. Parents are innately programmedto respond to these social releasers, which in turn promotes survival.

Monotrophy - a single most important attachment. Infants will form attachments but there will be one that is the primary attachment(usually the mother).

Internal Working Model - the first attachment is a template for future relationships.

Critical Period - children must form an attachment within the first three years of life or there may be long term negative consequence.

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Ainsworth - Attachment

Strange situation- Mother and child in new environment. Female a stranger to the child enters room, talks to the mother then child. Mother leaves while stranger talking to child. Stranger interacts with child. Mother returns and stranger leaves. Mother leaves so child is alone. Stranger returns to be with child. Mother returns to room. Looking for separation distress and stranger anxiety. Type A anxious avoidant (20%), Type B secure (70%), Type C anxious resistant (10%).

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Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg - Attachment

Cross cultural research- used strange situation

UK – Type A 22%, Type B 75%, Type C 3%

Germany – Type A 35%, Type B 57%, Type C 8%

Japan – Type A 5%, Type B 66%, Type C 27%

Secure most common attachment type in all countries. Difference in west and east (west A second most common, East C second most common). Larger differences within countries than between.

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Hodges and Tizard - Attachment

65 children all institutionalised before 4 months old. 24 adopted, 15 returned to biological parents, 26 remained institutionalised. Assessed at 4, 8 and 16 years old for social and emotional development, through interviews.

Adopted had fewest behavioural problems (aged 4 and 8). Adopted and returned were more attention seeking. Returned were clingy and less likely to have developed close relationships. Adopted had strong attachments, slightly more physically affectionate. All three groups were unpopular with peers, restless and aggressive. Adopted (aged 16) normal relationships. Returned and institutionalised still had problems.

Being institutionalised as a baby tended to have long term effects, regardless of whether they were adopted, returned or stayed in institutionalisation. The outcome was considerably better following adoption than the other two options. Institutionalisation is partly reversible.

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Rutter - Attachment

Followed 111 Romanian children adopted into Britain, to see if good quality aftercare can make up for poor early experiences. When first arrived in Britain the children were behind in development, underweight and mentally retarded. Followed up at 4 years old and were assessed for physical and intellectual development. At 4 they had caught up with a control group of British children on physical, emotional and intellectual development. Shows that the younger the child is adopted the better their development.

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Atkinson and Shiffrin - Memory


3 kinds of memory store – Sensory memory (STSS), short-term memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM). These memory stores are separate and distinctly different.

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Sperling - Memory

Studied the DURATION of the iconic (visual) store using a matrix of 12 letters. Pp’s were shown the matrix for 50 milliseconds, and then asked to recall either part of it of the whole thing. Average number of letters recalled when trying to recall whole matrix was only 4 letters. When asked to partially recall matrix(top, middle or bottom row), average recall was 3 letters. This indicates that the pp’s memory for the matrix faded over time, they had a clear image of the whole matrix at the time it was taken away, but as time went on this became less clear and so recall decreased. The duration of STSS iconic store is approx. 0.5 seconds.

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Treisman - Memory


Played a message into each ear of the pp’s. They had to shadow one of the messages (listen to and repeat it), the message played into the other ear was identical but slightly delayed. Pp’s only noticed the messages were the same if the delay between them was 2 seconds or less. Suggests has a max duration of 2 seconds.

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Peterson&Peterson - Memory


24 students, tested recall of trigrams, rehearsal was prevented. No two trigrams contained any of the same letters. Pp’s were shown a trigram then told to count back in 3’s or 4’s till a flashing light appeared. They then had to recall the trigram. There were various fixed durations between the letters and the light (3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 seconds). Each pp was tested on each of the time intervals once in each block of six trials.

As the delay between seeing the trigram and recalling it increased the ability to recall decreased. No pp’s could recall the letters after more than 18 seconds. When rehearsal is prevented items in short term memory are lost quickly, lasting a max of approx. 18 seconds.

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Miller - Memory


Suggested that our STM can hold 7 + or – 2 bits of info. We can expand by chunking

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Conrad - Memory

Wanted to find out of STM encoding is acoustic when info is presented visually.

Pp’s shown a list of 6 letters (either acoustically similar or dissimilar) for 0.75 seconds, and then asked to recall them.

Pp’s made substitution errors for acoustically similar letters. Shows that acoustic confusion had occurred so encoding in STM must be acoustic.

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Huang - Memory


Looked at own memory for 560 past students over more than 20 years. He could accurately recognise whether or not an individual was a past student on more than 80% of occasions. His memory was best for more recent students but levelled off to a fairly consistent level for the earlier classes.

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Bahrick - Memory


Tested own memory accuracy using former class mates who had left school up to 48 years ago. 4 conditions, free recall of names, photo recognition, name recognition and name and photo matching.

Up to 34 years after leaving accuracy in face and name recognition was 90%.

After 48 years this dropped to 80% for name recognition and 40% for face recognition.

Free recall was the least accurate after 15 years 60% and only 30% after 48 years.

Concluded that info remained in LTM if rehearsed and revisited.

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Baddeley - Memory


Pp’s were asked to recall a list of 5 words that were either;

·         Acoustically similar

·         Acoustically dissimilar

·         Semantically similar

·         Semantically dissimilar

They were tested immediately and they had errors with acoustically similar words(supports encoding in STM)

They were tested 20 mins later and errors were made with semantically similar words. Suggests that encoding in LTM is semantic.

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Murdock - Memory

The Serial Position Effect Of Free Recall

Groups of psychology students (103 in total) were read a list of words at a steady rate. The list varied in length from 10 to 40 words, immediately afterwards they were given 1 minute 30 seconds to write down as many words as they could in any order.

Recall for the early and late items in any list was much better than for the items in the middle. This happened for all lists regardless of their length.

Findings support the existence of separate short and long term memory stores. The most obvious explanation is that the items at the start of the list had been rehearsed and stored in LTM and the items at the end were still in STM. The middle items were simply forgotten.

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Baddeley and Hitch - Memory

Disagreed that STM was one store, so proposed WMM to show sub compartments within STM.

Visuo Spatial Sketchpad – a temporary store that holds visual and spatial info.

Central Executive – receives info in several sensory forms (from STSS) for sorting into the relevant temporary store.

Phonological Loop – temporary store that deals with linguistic and other sounds.

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Baddeley - Memory

WMM Visuo spatial sketchpad evidence.

While listening to a football game on the radio whilst driving, he tried to visualise the game. As he did so his car began to drift across the highway. He changed to a music channel. It appears that the spatial info that came from imagining the layout of the game interfered with his processing of the road, whereas the same did not happen when he was dealing with music (phonological)

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Imbo - Memory

WMM Central Executive Evidence.

Changed difficulty of sums. When doing arithmetic in your head you have to carry over numbers. Imbo altered the number of carry overs and the value of the carry. Both these factors increased the demand on working memory. Having more numbers to carry over and larger carrying values made the sum more difficult. This suggests that the central executive plays a role in the processing associated with both ‘holding’ the number to be carried and storing it’s value.

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Conrad - Memory

WMM Phonological Loop Evidence.


Presented pp’s with a visual series of six letters. They had to report them immediately from STM. Pp’s tended to muddle up letters such as b and p, f and s. The majority of errors were with acoustically similar words. Pp’s used an acoustic code – converting visual into sounds.

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Lofus - Memory

Factors affecting eye witness testimony - ANXIETY

The Weapon Focus Phenomenon

Conducted research involving 2 groups; one who overheard a low key discussion about a lab equipment failure and then saw a man leave the lab holding a pen with grease on his hands. The other group overheard a heated and hostile exchange between the people in the lab. There was a sound of glass breaking and chairs banging, then a man left carrying a paper knife covered in blood.

The pp’s were then given 50 photos from which to identify the person who had left the lab. Lofus found that the witnesses identified the man holding the pen 49% of the time. In the other condition, the man holding the blood stained knife was only identified 33% of the time.

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Christianson and Hubinette - Memory

Factors effecting eyewitness tesimony - PROXIMITY

Looked at the accuracy of recall in 110 witnesses to one of 22 genuine bank robberies. They found that the pp’s who were victims had better recall and remembered more details, about what the robbers wore, their behaviour and the weapon used, than bystanders. This recall continued to be superior long after the event, even after a 15 month interval.

They concluded that recall is better in highly stressful events if they occur in real life rather than artificially.

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