Psychology- Attachment Key Terms and Researchers

Key terms or Attachment and day care

Key researchers for attachment and day care

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  • Created by: Shauni
  • Created on: 22-05-12 08:53


a two-way, enduring, emotional tie to a specific other person

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Multiple Attachments:

forming multiple ties with many carers

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Learning Theory:

Also known as cupboard love theory

attachments formed with people who feed infants

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a form of attachment where offspring follow the first large moving object encountered

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Critical Period:

a specific time period within which an attachment must form

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Social Releasers:

infant social behaviour stimulating adult interaction and care-giving

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an innate tendency to become attached to one particular adult

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The Strange Situation:

an observational testing procedure measuring the quality of attachments

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Stranger Anxiety:

distress shown by infants when in the presence of unfamiliar persons

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Sensitive Responsiveness:

perceiving and responding appropriately to infants' needs

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Continuity Hypothesis:

the idea that there is consistency between early emotional experiences and later relationships

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identifiable groups of people bound together by attitudes, values, goals and customs

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Cross-cultural Study:

comparison of findings from people of different cultures

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Imposed Etic:

using techniques relevant to one culture to study another

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behaviours applicable to specific cultures

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Affectionless Psychopathy:

lacking a social conscience

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temporary or permanent absence of an attachment figure

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seperation from an attachment figure

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never having formed an attachment

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Institutional Care:

child-care provided by orphanages and children's homes

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Day Care:

temporary care provided by non-family members or people not well known to a child outside of the home

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Social Development:

aquiring relationships with others and the social skills needed to fit into a cultural group

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Peer Relationships:

relationships with people of equal standing

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Home Care:

parental care given to children in their home environment

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Schaffer and Emerson:


Observational study of 60 Glasgow babies

What was found:

Around 4 in 10 babies formed their first attachment to someone who did not feed them but who played with them

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Method: Gave baby monkeys, who had been seperated from their natural mother, a soft cloth pretend 'mum' monkey and a wire 'mum' monkey, which fed them

What was found:

The baby monkeys formed an attachment to the soft cloth 'mum', showing that comfort was more important that simply providing food

Contact comfort is associated with lower levels of stress and a willingness to explore, indicating emotional security


This study involved animals and therefore we cannot necessarily generalise the result to humans

There are ethical issues involving the seperation of baby monkeys and the stress caused to them

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Attachments are instinctive behaviours for both babies and parents that have evolved because they increase the likelihood of babies surviving

Babies possess instincts (crying/smiling) to get others to look after them, and parents (especially mothers) possess instincts to protect and care for their babies

Babies form one attachment which is more important than all the others (monotropy)

The first attachment must be formed in the sensitive period before the child reaches the age of three

The first attachment provides the baby with a model of how loveable they are and how trustworthy other people are. It also provides a prototype or internal working model (IWM) of how relationships work

The attachment formed as a child affects later adult relationships (the continuity hypothesis)

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...continued...          Evaluation: Other claims made by Bowlby have been refined as we have learned more about child development:

IWMs and continuity: Hazan and Shaver's Love Quiz study found that attachments in childhood often predicted adult love relationships, supporting the IWM theory. However, attachment types can change depending on later experiences. Secure children who experience parental divorce/death may become insecure. Insecure children may develop 'earned security' from a later relationship

Monotropy: Bowlby's belief in the importance of mothering/parenting in later adjustment is widely accepted. However, Scaffer and Emerson suggest that multiple attachments rather than single attachments are common for most babies.

The sensitive period before the age of 3 is the best time for attachment to form. However, in circumstances of adoption or privation, attachments can be formed later. Tizard and Hodges found that children adopted after the age of 4 still attached to their new parents.

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Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg:

Carried out a meta-analysis of 32 strange situation studies in different countries.

In the UK a large percentage of mothers work and children are put into nursery or with a childminder from a young age. In Germany, working mothers are rare but young children are encouraged to be independent and self-reliant. These experiences may lead young children to show less anxiety about seperation and be classed as insecure-avoidant

Few Japanese mothers worked and babies were rarely put in nursery or left with childminders. This explains why they showed violent protest at seperation but did not settle down when the mother returned- they experience few seperations and were not used to them. This led to the increased number of insecure-resistant children.

In Israel, many children are brought up in communes. In closed communities, they are unlikely to meet strangers, which explains why they show so much fear of strangers.(insecure-resistant)

Most common order: secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-resistant

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The maternal deprivation hypothesis.

studied children raised in orphanages and nurseries. Saw lack of maternal care as the common factor leading to negative outcomes like poor IQ and even death

There were, however, several methodological faults with these studies

He then later did another study:

The disruption of mother-child bond results in negative outcomes, with serious and permanent damage to a child's emotional and intellectual development

compared 44 juvenile thieves with a control group of non-thieves with emotional problems. 32% of the non-thieves were affectionless psychopaths.86% of these affectionless psychopaths experienced maternal seperation compared to 17% of the thieves who were not affectionless psychopaths.

This suggests that maternal deprivation can have serious long-lasting negative effects

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Case Study-Koluchova:

Early life:     Twin boys suffered extreme privation from 18 months to 7 years. They were locked in an unheated cellar, beaten and starved. They had no human company except each other

Problems:      At age 7, they were unable to talk, terrified of adults and had severe health problems


Following extensive treatment/ rehabilitation, the boys were placed in a permanent foster home. They developed normal language skills and attend mainstream schools

This study suggests that young children can sometimes recover from difficult circumstances if they receive good aftercare. It is hard to know what happened to the children during the first years of their lives. Each set of circumstances is different so we should not generalise from case studies.

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Case Study-Skuse:

Early life:     Two girls experienced privation from birth until the ages of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2. Their mother had learning difficulties and kept them tied to the bed with dog leads. They were prevented from talking. 

Problems:      When found, they had no speech and very few social skills.They did not know how to play.


 Louise developed normal language skills and started school. Mary showed severe problems and was moved to a special school for autistic children

This study suggests that young children can sometimes recover from difficult circumstances if they receive good aftercare. It is hard to know what happened to the children during the first years of their lives. Each set of circumstances is different so we should not generalise from case studies.It is also difficult to know whether Mary suffered from some form of developmental delay or whether this was caused by neglect.

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Tizard and Hodges:

Sample: 65 children brought up in a children's home until at least age four

Method: In this natural experiment, 65 childen were raised in a home where the physical care was good, but staff were discouraged from forming attachments to children. By the time the children were 2, they had on average 24 carers. At age 4, 25 were restored to their birth parents, 33 were adopted and the other 7 remained in care. Some of the children were followed up at ages 8 and 16.

Both restored and adopted children struggled with relationships with peers

Conclusion and implications: Children can form attachments outside the sensitive period of the first 3 years, contradicting Bowlby's theory. However, they may struggle with relationships with people who do not put in extra effort. There may have been differences between the children, which led to some being adopted and others staying in the home, which could also affect the outcome of the study.

Rutter et al study of romanian children found that those who were adopted after 6 months were more likely to show disinhibited attachment patterns than children adopted at an earlier age.

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Andersson, Campbell et al:

Studied social and cognitive progress of children attending Swedish day care

Children who had attended day care (DC) were able to get on better with other children, were more sociable and outgoing

Need to be cautious in generalising findings from one place to another. Day care in Sweden is well funded and high quality. But findings are supported by other studies.


Compared children in Sweden who attended DC between 18 months and 3 1/2 years with home-raised children, following them until age 15

Children who spend short days in nursery are more socially competent .Social competence stays around the same level from 3 1/2 years to 15 years

Study showed that quality of DC has an effect as well as time spent in day careChildren were assesed before they started DC providing a baseline to compare their social abilities. Lengthly follow up period shows possible long term effects of early DC experiences

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Schindler et al:

Studied 57 children attending DC in the US. Observed over 2 weeks. Measured amount of time spent playing alone, alongside or cooperatively with other children

Positive correlation between amount of time spent in DC and amount of time spent playing cooperatively with other children

This is a correlational study so need to be cautious about claiming that DC causes more cooperative play.

Cooperative play generally increases as children get older and more able to talk- this is a confounding variable.

Other studies (e.g.DiLalla) found a negative correlation between time spent in DC and pro-social play.

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Campbell et al and Belsky:

Campbell et al: Children under 3 1/2 years who spend long days in nursery have more negative interactions with other children and are less socially competent

Small children spending long days in day care become tired and frustrated leading to more negative interactions with other children

Belsky: Analysed data from a longitudinal study of 1000 American children followed from birth

DC children showed higher levels of problem behaviours than non-DC children, including aggression towards peers and disobedience towards teachers and other adults

American DC is lower quality and less well funded than DC in Sweden.

Findings supported by Maccoby and Lewis who also found that more hours in DC correlated with more conflict with teachers

One interpretation is that children who attend DC become more confident and assertive

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The National Institute of Child Health and Develop

Examined behaviour of a large sample of children aged 4 1/2 years. Researchers collected reports about children's behaviour from parents, teachers and carers.

The more time a child spent in DC, the greater amounts of problem behaviours, including disobedience and aggression.

Used as an extremely large sample so likely to be reliable.

Study was in the US where DC is less well funded

Use of reports from parents and teachers provides well rounded data about children's behaviour.

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Emily Poots


This is really good, thankyou!

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