psychology studies for attachment

ket studies for all areas of attachment, condensed down into revision format

HideShow resource information

explanation to attachment


behaviour is acquired thourgh experiance i.e. learning through classical & operant conditiong

Classical Conditioning:

unconditioned stimulus e.g. food (UCS) produces an unconditioned reflex e.g. pleasure (UCR)

primary care giver becomes a conditioned response (CS) but results in no response from the infant during attachment

infant then associates food and primary care givver together making it a CS reulsting in pleaseure for the infant

eventually the Primary Care Giver (CS) will stimulate pleasure (CR) from the infant


1 of 15

learning theory continued

Operant Conditioning:

hungry infant feels uncomfortable - creates a drive to reduce discomfort i.e. feeding

when infant is fed, the drive in reduced & this produced a feeling of pleasure (positive reinforcement) Food then becomes a primary reinforcer i.e. innital source of pleasure

The person who supplies the food id associated with avoiding discomfort and becomes a secondary reinforcement - so the person giving the food is seen as a source of rewards in the same way food is sought.


2 of 15

AO2 for learning theory


lab experiment using infant monkies.

placed in a cage with 2 wire monkeys: one had a feeding bottle attached to her the other was a soft cloth but offered no food

all the monkies spent the majority of the time on the cloth monkey esspiecally when scared - a proximity-seeking behaviour which is characteristic of attachment


studied 60 middle class babies observed in their own homes for about a year

they found 39% of the infants were not primarly attached to the person who fed, bathed them. Strongest attachment was to those most responsive.

3 of 15

2nd explanation to attachment


attachment is innate and is biologically pre-programmed into us at birth.

point 1: infants releases social emitters which stimulate a care giving response from an adult that is programmed in

point 2: there is a critcal period for attachment to occur, must happen before 2 and a half years - if not will cause emotional disturbance

point 3: continuity hypothesis - individuals who are securely attacked in infancy will contine to be socially and emotionally competent - it's the opposite for insecure kids

4 of 15

measuring attachment


  • proximity seeking - espically in times of distress
  • pleasure when reunited
  • distress on seperation
  • general orientation of behaviour directed towards Primary Care Giver (PCG)

link to the strange situation classifacation!

5 of 15

Schaffer and Ermson

Glasgow Babies Study

longlitudinal study.

60 infants, working class

measure attachment every 4 weeks until 1. Repeated after a year and again at 18 months.


50% specifically attached at 6-8months

at 18 months only 13% attached to 1 person

39% not attached to main feeder/bather

6 of 15

Ainsworth & Bell

devised the strange situation classifaction in order to measure attachment

8 steps to the process:

1) mother & child introduced to room

2) mother & child left alone; child begins to investigate toys

3) stranger enters the room and talks to mother; approaches child with a toy

4) mother leaves the room; stranger attempts to sooth the child

5) mother returns and comforts child

6)mother and stranger leaves the room; child left alone

7)strangers enters the room alone to attempt to comfort

8)mother comes back in to greet and comfort child. Stranger leaves

7 of 15

Ainsworth and bell continued.

the study was conducted on US middle class infants

they found:

66% of the infants were securly attatched (Type B)

22% of them were insecure avoidant (Type A)

12% of them were insecure resistant (Type C)

they concluded type B attachment was the norm and the most healthiest form of attachment

8 of 15

Cultral Variation

Van Ijzendorm & Kronenberg

studied differences between inter/intra attachment

meta-analysis of 32 studies from 8 different countries

inter (between) countries- small difference, Type B most common

intra (within countries) was 1.5 times larger

secure B: GB 75%-50% China

avoidant A: West Germany 35%-3% Japan

resistant B: Israel 29% - 3% GB

US pattern of attachment was the norm

9 of 15

cultral variation 2

Takahashi - is the Strange Situation valid?

tried it out in Japan

90% of the critical trials were stopped due to high infant stress - but if they weren't stopped 80% would be Type B

Very different to Ainsworth & Bell

Lack of Type A - impolite to be rude in their culture, very rare

10 of 15

maternal deprivation hypothesis reseach


looked at infants in an orphanage where the majority were showing signs of analotic depression

found that the survival rates for a prision was much higher than in the orphanage


looked at 100 physchologically 'normal' children in long term hospital care who showed signs of depression

the found that a quick recovery was possible if the stay was less than 3 months

11 of 15

44 thieves study


88 children between 5-16 years old attended his guidence clinic. 2 groups:

i) 44 referred for theiving, 14 were diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths

ii) control group, 44 children experiancing emotional problems, none were affectionless psychopaths

parents & their children interviews about their childhood


86% of the affectionless thieves experiance frequent & prolonged seperation

17% of the other thieves had also experianced frequent & prolonged seperation

4% of control group had experianced frequent & prolonged seperation

12 of 15

conclusions of Bowlby's study

  • suggests a link between early seperation and lack of soical conscience i.e. lack of continual care may cause emotional maladjustment
  • in its most severe form, maternal deprivation leads to affectionless psychopaths
  • in its least severe form it can cause anit social behaviour
13 of 15

Hodges & Tizzard, Privation

compared institutinal children with a control sample

65 raised in care before 4 months old (it was explicit rule that the house parent couldn't form an attachment); controls raised at home.

longlitudinal study, 16 years.

measures of social and emotional compliance at 4,8 & 16 years using interviews/questionnaires


at 4 years - no attachment for adopted or restored

at 8 years - normal attachment for adopted but poor for restored

at 16 years - noraml for adopted but only 50% deeply attached for restored

14 of 15

Hodges & Tizzard continued

mixed evidence for reversability:

  • adopted group developed normal attachment
  • restored group developed poor attachment and behaviour issues

Both groups had issues outside the family:

  • pooerer peer relations that controls
  • attention seeking from adults

Also supported by RUTTER et al

studied 100 romanian orphans adopted by UK families

those adopted past 6 months tend to have continuing problems with social relationships and problems with peers

15 of 15


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Psychology case studies resources »