Psychology AS - Attachment

AS Psychology 

AQA exam

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  • Created on: 24-05-11 14:43

Different types of attachment.

The Three Main Types of Attachment are ? 

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Secure attachments : A secure attachment is a Strong bond between the child and caregiver. If they're separated the infant becomes distressed. However when reunited the child is easily comforted by the care giver.

Insecure Attachments: 

Insecure-avoidant - If they're separated from the care giver the child doesn't become distressed and can usually be comforted by a stranger.

Insecure- resistant - The child is often uneasy around their caregiver but becomes upset if separated. Comfort cannot be given by stranger and its also often resisted from the caregiver.

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An Infant's Reaction in a strange Situation Shows

Ainsworth et al (1978) The Strange Situation 

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Method, Results, Conclusions, Evaluation

Method: In a controlled observation.12-18 month old infants with their mothers, eight different scenarios. Infant’s reactions were observed.

Results: 15% were insecure avoidant (Ignored thier mother and didnt mind if they left) , 70% were securely attached  (upset when mother left) and 15% were insecurely resistant. ( uneasy around mother and upset if she left) 

Conclusion: Infants showing different reactions to their care givers have different types of attachment.

Evaluation: (+) Their was control of the variables making the results reliable 

(-) It was a Lab Experiment, Artificial , Lacks Ecological Validity 

(-) The mothers may not have been the child's main attachment figure.

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Different Cultures

Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenburg (1988) Cross Cultural Studies 

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Method, Results, Conclusion, Evaluation.

Method: Carried out a meta-analysis of 32 studies of the "strange situation" in different contries (e.g. Japan, Britain, Sweedon) They were analysed to find any overall patterns. 

Results: The percentage of children classified as securly or insecure were very similar across the countries tested. Secure attachments were the most common type of attachment. In western cultures the dominant type of insecure attachment was avoidant. However in non-western cultures the dominant type was resistant.

Conclution: There are cross- cultural similarities in raising children, producing common reactions to the "strange situation". 

Evaluation:  (+) Meta-analyses, hides individual results that show an usually trend. 

(-) Children are brought up in different ways in different cultures, this may result in different types of attachment in different cultures and therefore the "strange situation" may not be a suitible method for studying cross cultural attachments.

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Disruption of attachment

PDD Model: 

1) Protest - During the first few hours the child will protest a lot a being separated from its mother by crying, panicking, calling for its mother, etc. 

2) Despair - After a day or two, the child will loose interest in its surroundings, becoming more and more withdrawn with occasional crying.

3) Detachment - After a few days, child will become more alert and interested in surroundings. it will cry less and may seem to have recovered from its bad reaction. However its previous attachment with its carer may now be damaged.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of PDD model


Findings suggest that separating a child from its carers should be avoided, This has important implications for childcare practice. 


Studies can show that children can cope with separation as long as they still receive one to one emotional support. 

Separations do not necessarily produce the PDD effects, Other factors that can influence reaction to separation.

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Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis

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Deprivation from the main carer during the Critical Period (the first 3-5 years) will have harmful effects on a child's emotional,social and intellectual development.

Long term effects of deprivation include Separation anxiety ( the fear of another separation from the carer) This may lead to problem behaviour e.g. being clingy and avoiding going to school. Future relationships may be affected by this emotional insecurity. 

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Bowlby (1944) - The 44 Juvenile Thieves 

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Method, Results, Conclusion, Evaluation

Method: Case studies, on 44 adolescents who had been referred to the clinic where bowlby worked because they'd been stealing. There was a control group of 44 emotionally disterbed adolescents that didnt steal. 

Results: 17 of the thieves had experienced frequent separation from thier mothers before the age of 2. compared with 2 in the control group. 14 were diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths. 12 of these 14 had experienced separation from thier mothers.

Conclusion: Deprivation of the child from its main carer early in life can have very harmful long term consequences. 

Evaluation: (-) The results say that there is a link between deprivation and criminal behaviour but you can't say that one causes the other. 

(-) There may be other factors that cause criminal behaviour.

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Bowlby's Materbal Deprivation Hypothesis Strength


Goldfarb (1943) Supports Bowlby's Claims, found that orphanage children who were socially and maternally deprived were later less intellectually and socially developed.


Other things were not considered e.g whether they were brought up in poverty that lead them to steal. The children in Goldfarbs study were more likely to be harmed by the social deprivation rather than the maternal deprivation.

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Maternal privation is when a child never had an attachment to its mother or another caregiver. 

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Case Studies : The Case of Genie & The Case of the Czech twin boys

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The Case of Genie: Girl who experience extreme cruelty from her parents and never formed any attachments. Her father kept her in a high chair with a potty in the seat. She was beaten if she made any sounds and didn't have a chance to play with toys and other children. She was discovered age 13  she was physically undeveloped and could only speak animal like sounds. After a lot of help she learned some language but her social and intellectual skills never seemed to fully develop. 

The Case of the Czech twin boys: Their mother died soon after they were born and were treated cruelly by their father and stepmother. They were often kept locked in the cellar and beaten and had no toys. they were found when they were 7 with rickets and very little social and intellectual development. They were later adopted and made lots of progress. by adulthood they had above average intelligence and normal social relationships.

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Hodges and Tizard (1989) studied children raised in institutions 

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Method, Results, Conclusion, Evaluation

Method: Longitudinal study of 65 children who had been placed in a residential nursery before they were 4 months old. They hadn't had the opportunity to form attachments with their caregivers. By age of 4 some of the children were given back to their birth mothers, some had been adopted and some stayed.

Results: at 16 years, the adopted group had strong family relationships although compared to the control group they had weaker peer relationships. Those who stayed and those you returned to their mothers showed poorer family and peer relationships than the adopted children.

Conclusion: Children can recover from early maternal privation if they are in a good loving environment. Although their social development may not be as good as children who had never suffered privation

Evaluation: (+) Natural experiment, High ecological validity  (-) Over 20 of the children couldn't be found at the end of the study, so its hard to generalise the results

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Day Care


Shea (1981) Positive effects of day care 

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Method, Results, Conclusion, Evaluation

Method: Infants aged 3 - 4 were video taped in the playground during the first 10 weeks at nursery school. Their behaviour was assessed in the terms of Rough-and-tumble play, aggression, frequency of peer interaction, distance from the teacher and distance from the nearest child.

Results: Over the 10 weeks the children's peer interaction increased and their distance from the teacher decreased. Decrease in aggression and an increase in rough-and-tumble play. The increase in sociability was more evident in children who attended 5 days a week rather than 2. 

Conclusion: Day care causes children to be more sociable and less aggressive.

Evaluation: (+) High ecological validity (-) Can be affected by extraneous variables (-) Could be biased, difficult to differentiate between aggression and rough-and-tumble play.

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Day Care


Belsky and Rovine (1988) - Negative effects of day care 

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Method,Results, Conclusion, Evaluation

Method: Infants were placed in the "strange situation"  to assess how secure their attachments were with their mothers. One group experience no day care, the other experienced 20 hours of day care per week before their first birthday.

Results: The infants who went to day care were more likely to have an insecure attachment. Those who hadn't had day care were more likely to be securely attached

Conclusion: Day care has a negative effect on an infants social development

Evaluation: (+) Controlled observation, High in control of the variables. (-) Lacks ecological validity because it creates an artificial situation. 

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How to make a Great Day Care Centre...

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1) Good Staff training

2) Adequate space

3) Appropriate toys and activities

4) A good ratio of staff to children

5) Minimising staff turnover so that children can form stable attachments with carers

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Fathia mohamed

it wasnt a lab experiment it was a artificial observation

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