Psychology Unit 1

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  • Created on: 23-12-12 07:31

Learning Theory

Attachment is a close emotional relationship between infants and caregivers. Desire to be close and distress when seperated. Pleasure when reunited. 

Learning theory suggests attachment develops through classical and operant conditioning. 

Classical conditioning food (UCS) produces pleasure (UCR).  The mother is associated with the pleasure and becomes a conditioned stimulus.  

Operant conditioning food satisfies the infant’s hunger and makes it feel comfortable again (drive reduction).  Food is therefore a primary reinforcer.  The mother is associated with food and becomes a secondary reinforcer.  The infant becomes attached to the mother because she is a source of reward.

Schaffer and Emerson found that less than half of infants had a primary attachment to the person who usually fed them.  Responsiveness seemed to be the key to attachment.

Harlow’s research suggesting the importance of contact comfort rather than food.

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Ethological Approach - Lorenz

Found geese automatically 'attach' to the first moving thing they see after hatching, and follow it everywhere. This is called imprinting. 

Imprinting seems to occur during a 'critical period' - In this case, the first few hours after hatching. It's a fast and automatic process. 

Critical period: Limited window for development. Infants most sensitive to attachment in second quatar of their first year. After it becomes increasingly difficult to form infant-caregiver attachments. 

- Supports Bowlby's concept of imprinting. 

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  • Bowlby’s theory of attachment suggests attachment is important for survival.
  •  Infants are innately programmed to form an attachment.  This is a biological process and takes place during a critical period.  
  • The role of social releasers is emphasised.  
  • The child’s relationship with a PCG provides an internal working model which influences later relationships. 


Critical period - Some can form attachments after this period e.g Czech Twins

Monotropy - Some form attachments with people other than the mother 

Imprinting-  Issue with generalising from birds to humans (Lorenz)  

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Ainsworth, Strange Sit - A01

In the strange situation about 100 middle-class American infants and their mothers took part.  The infant’s behaviour was observed during a set of pre-determined activities.  These included:

1) Introducing mother and child to the room,

2) Child playing with toys

3) Stranger entering

4) Mother leaving

5) Stranger interacting with child

6) mother returning

7) Child left on own

8) Stranger returning and mother returning.

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Separation can have major effects - PDD model

PDD model -

Protect: During the first few hours, the child will protest a lot at being separated from its mother by crying, panicking, calling for its mother, etc. 

Despair: After a day or two, the child will start to lose interest in its surrondings, becoming more and more withdrawn, with occasional crying. They may also eat and sleep less.

Deattachment: After a few days, the child will start to become more alert and interested again in its surroundings. It will cry less and may seem to have recovered from tis bas reaction to the separation. However, its previous attachment with its carer may now be permanently damaged - trust and secuirty may be lost. 

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Supporting PDD model: Robertson and Robertson, Joh

John showed the signs of passing through 'protest' for the first day or two. Then he showed depair he tried to get attention from nurses but they were busy with other childern so he gave up trying. Then he showed deattachment. He was more active and content. However, when his mother came to collect him, he was reluctant to be affectionate. 


  • Could have been down to new enviorment such as not getting as much attention as he was use to 
  • Little control of variables
  • Difficult to replicate each individual situation 
  • Natural setting, high ecological validity 
  • But less reliable 
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Disruption of attachment


Is where a child is away from a caregiver they're attached to (such as their mother). The term's used when it's a relatively short time, just hours or days - not longer or permanent seperation. 


Describes the loss of something that is wanted or needed. So 'maternal deprivation' is the loss of the mother (or other attachment figure). A more long-term or even permanent loss is implied. 

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Deprivation - Bowlby

Maternal deprivation hypothesis:

  • Deprivation from the main carer during the critical period will have harmful effect on a child's emotional, social, intellectual and even physical development. 
  • Long temr effect may include separation anxiety. May lead to problem behaviour e.g clingy and future relationships may be affected. 

Bowlby 44 Juvenile Thieves 

  • Case studies of 44 adolescents. Control group of 44 'emotionally disturbed' who didn't steal
  • 17 had frequent separations from mother before 2. 
  • However; it can not be said that deprivation causes criminal behaviour as may be other factors. Relied on retrospective data. Small sample size. 
  • Supporting Bowbly:  Goldfarb: found that orphanage childern who were socially and maternally deprived were later less intellectually and socially developed.  
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Hodges + Tizard

  • 65 childern brought up in a childerns home until they were around 4 years old 
  • Almost all adopted childern and some of the restored childern formed close attachments to their parents, but they had difficulities with peer relationships and were more attention seeking than controls. 

Rutter- Romanian childern

  • Who has been placed in insitututions before being adopted by UK families. Childern who spent longer in the institutions were more likely to show long term effects 

Skeels and Dye 

  • Found that childern who had been socially deprived (in an orphanage) during their first two years of life quickly improved IQ scores if they were transferred to a school where they got one-to-one care. 
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Privation refers to situations where children do not form an attachment with anyone.  

Hodges & Tizard:  longitudinal study of 65 British children from early childhood. They did not have the chance to form a bond with their caregivers. Adopted formed strong bonds but weaker peer relationships. 'Normal' poorer relationships with family. 

Curtiss’s study of Genie

Czech Twins 

Rutter’s Romanian orphans adopted by British families: Initially below normal development, but by four years of age their development had caught up. Supporting Hodges and Tizard, can recover from privation if good quality care

Long term effects: 1) In ability to give or receive affection. 2) Poor social relationships. 3) dishonesty 4) involvement in crime

Cycle of Privation: Quinton et al: parenting difficulties later in life compared 50 who had experienced institutional care and not. 

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Short term memory

Baddeley encoding of STM:

  • Semantically similar words easier to remember in STM. Concluding STM relies on acoustic encoding. 
  • However: lacks ecological validity,  demand characteristics, generlizability, high internal validty, highly ethical. 

Jacobs capacity of STM: 

  • Digit scan technique used, presented sequence of letters or number. Recall digits immediately after, and gradually increased length until only 50% could only recall. 
  • On average 9.3 numbers and 7.3 letters. Could be because there are more letters than numbers used
  • However: Lacks ecological valdity, Applications postcode system (chunking). 
  • Opposing research: Cowan (2001) reviewed several studies and concluded STM limited to around 4 chunks, suggesting not as extensive as previously suggested. 
  • Individual differences: Age (development of strategies to aid recall), anxiety (shorter STM). 
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STM: Peterson and Peterson

  • To test duration of STM, 24 university students presented with consonant syllable followed by three digit number. E.g RJP 645. Consonant syllable had no meaning and read aloud to participants. After hearing syllable and number asked to count backwards from number presented with in 3s or 4s until told to stop. To prevent reheral. Then asked to recall trigram. 
  • 80% recalled correctly 3-second interval 
  • 10% item recalled correctly 18-second interval. 
  • When reherasal is prevented max duration is 20 seconds 


  • Ecological validity lacks
  • Highly reliable as standardised, easily replicated 
  • Lacks generlizability 
  • Demand characteristics 
  • Lack internal validity as trigrams may have been displaced by numbers therefore forgetting not due to decay but due to displacement 
  • Supporting study: Nairne et al (1999) found that items could be recalled after as long as 96 seconds, suggesting not as short as previously suggested. 
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MSM - A01

  • Atkinson and Shiffrin’s (1968) multi-store model of memory (MSM) makes a distinction between the separate stores of sensory, short-term and long-term memory. 
  • It is a structural model 
  • STM and LTM are unitary stores 
  •  Information passes from store to store in a linear way 
  • Rehearsal is needed to pass information from STM to LTM 
  • Each store has its own characteristics in terms of encoding, capacity and duration 
  • Explanations of forgetting are different for each store
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MSM - A02


  • Milner (1965) case study of HM who was unable to retain any new information although his immediate digit span was within normal limits.
  •  Glanzer and Cunitz  (1966) who investigated the effect  of immediate and delayed recall on primacy and recency in a serial position curve.


  • Emphasis on rote rehearsal as a mechanism for transfer from STM to LTM although this is not a very effective means of transfer, and transfer often occurs with no rehearsal. 
  • E.g:  Clive Wearing who lost episodic but not procedural memory suggesting there may be more than one type of LTM. 
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WMM - A01

  • The working memory model replaced the idea of a unitary STM.  
  • It suggests a system involving active processing and short-term storage of information. 
  • Key features include the central executive, the phonological loop (consisting of two components, the phonological store and the articulatory control process), and the visuospatial sketch pad. 
  • Central executive, described as attention. Limited capacity and controls two slave systems that also have limited capacity.These are: 
  • Articulatory-phonological loop, holds speech based information. Phonological store (the inner ear) and articulatory process (inner voice) are found here. 
  • Viso-spatial sketchpad, this is a temporary store for visual and spatial information. 

Interference tasks:

  • Two tasks simultaneously using same system, performance affected. - WMM: Limited capacity and can not cope with both tasks.  
  • Two tasks involve different systems, performance isn't affected. 
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WMM - A02

Shallice and Warrington - Case study of KF

  • Brain damaged patient, recall verbally but not with visual information. 
  • Suggests impaired articulatory loop. Supports WMM view on STM. 


  • Little is known about how the central executive works - Vague 
  • Evidence from brain studies suggesting the central executive is not unitary.
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Eyewittness memory goes through three stages:

1) The witness encodes into LTM details of the event and the persons involved. Encoding may be only partial and distorted, particulary as most crimes happen very quickly, frequently at night, and sometimes accompanied by rapid, complex and often violent action. 

2) The witness retains the information for a period of time. Memories may be lost or modified during retention (most forgetting takes place within the first few minutes of a retention interval) and other activites between encoding and retrieval may interfere with the memory itself. 

3) The witness retrieves the memory from storage. What happens during the reconstruction of the memory (e.g presence or abence of appropriate retrieval cues or the nature of the questioning) may significantly affect its accuracy. 

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EWT, Loftus and Palmer A01, A02

Tested the accuracy of eye witnesses with the use of leading questions

- 45 students shown 7 films of different traffic accidents. 

- Each film, had a questionaire to describe the accident and answer a series of specific questions about it. There was one critical question 'How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?' The verb hit was changed: bumped, smashed, collied, contacted. 

- Mean speed calculated in each group. Group with 'smashed' gave higher speed than other groups.

- The study suggests EWT is generally inaccurate therefore unreliable. But not all researchers agree with this statement. (A02)  Yuille and Cutshall interviewed 13 people who had witnessed an armed robbery in Canada. The interviews took place more than 4 months after the crime and included two misleading questions. Recall matched with inital reports. Suggesting post-event information may not affect memory in real life EWT. 

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EWT anxiety

Yuille and Cutshall (1986)

Deffenbacher et al (2004)

Conducted a meta-analysis of 18 studies looking at the effect of anxiety on accuracy of EWT sand found considerable support for the hypothesis that high levels of stress negatively affect the accuracy of EWT. This provides support for Yerkes-Dodson Law which proposes recall is superior for moderate arousal (stress).


  • High ecological validity (Yullie and Cutshall, field)
  • Lack internal validity, no control of extranous variables i.e viewpoint (Yullie and Cutshall)
  • Demand characteristics
  • Supporting study: Riniolo et al (2003) found that 75% of eyewitnesses who gave testimony at the time of the sinking of the Titanic, reported that the shio was breaking apart as it sank, which was found to be true when the wreck of the Titanic was discovered in 1985. This suggets that eyewitnesses have accurate recollections of traumatic events, supporting research of Yuille and Cutshall. 
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Weapon focus effect (Anxiety EWT)

Loftus et al: one condition with weapon, one with not

  • 49% more accurate in one without weapon. Suggest weapon may distract attention from the person holding it and explains why eyewitnesses sometimes have poor recall for certain details of violent crimes. 
  • Supporting this Steblay (1992) conducted a meta analysis and found presence of a weapon foes infeed reduce the chances of a witness correctly identifiing the person holding it. 
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EWT age

Valentine and Coxon (1997)

Showed a vidoe of a kidnapping to three groups of participants (childern, young adults and elderly people). They were then asked a series of leading and non-leading questions about what they had seen. Both the elderly people and the childern gave more incorrect answers to non-leading questions. Childern were misled more by leading questions than adults or elderly. They concluded that age has an effect on the accuracy of EWT. 


  • Ecological validity low
  • High internal validity 
  • Own-age bias: Aastasi and Rhodes found that young and middle aged participants were significantly more accurate than older when recalling 24 photographs from 48 photos containing those previously seen. However all age groups more successful at recalling own age group photos. 
  • Applications, care in interviewing elderly and young to prevent misidentification of suspect. 
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Cognitive interview - Fisher and Geiselman

  • Report everything: Because one memory acts as a retrieval cue to the next, aiding recalling.
  • Context reinstatement: Mentally recrate context, recall details of the scene e.g weather. Each detail acts as a retrieval cue. 
  • Change the order: Reduces amount that a person uses prior knowledge, expections or schemas to recall what happened 
  • Change perspective: Also reduces the amount that a person uses prior knowledge, expections or schemas to recall events. 

Support (A02): 

Kohnken et al (1999): Completed a meta-analysis of 53 studies and found a 34% increase in the amount of correct information recalled in CL technquies, compared with standard interviewing technquies. This suggests that CL technquies are more effective than standard interviewing technquies. 

Stein and Memon (2006): Tested the effectiveness of the CL in Brazil, a country which usually uses interrogative questioning and torture. Watched abduction video, CL increased amount of correct information recalled compared to standard. Details of gun recalled. May be able to prevent miscarriages of justice in Brazil  

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Cognitive interview - A02

Opposing CL

Koehnken et al (1999): Whilst the CL increased the amount of the information recalled, it also elicited more inaccurate information than other methods. 

Valdity of research 

  • Kohnken et al, lab experiements involving student samples who are more use to recalling therefore lack generalisability. 
  • Lack ecological validity, as events recalled would elicit a different emotional responses to a crime witnessed in real life. 
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Field (1991) found the more time children spend in day care, the more friends they had.

 The EPPE project (2003) looked at large numbers of children in different types of pre-school provision and found high quality care was associated with greater sociability with other children.  

However, Dilallo (1988) found children who spend more time in day care were less cooperative and helpful in their relations with other children.

Length of time in day care may be a factor as Campbell (2000) found children who were in care for a long time each day were less socially competent than children who spent shorter days in care. 

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