Psychology Unit 1: Attachment

All of attachment for AQA psychology.

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  • Created by: emmaaaaa
  • Created on: 04-05-14 10:27

What is attachment?

  • Attachment- a strong emotional bond between two people that is reciprocated.
  • It is often measured by the following factors:
  • Seeks proximity
  • Stranger Anxiety
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Behaviour orientation
  • Joy on Reunion
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Schaffer and Emerson

  • AIM- to investigate how old a child is when they become attached, and how strong the attachment is, and also if there are any individual differences between infants.
  • PROCEDURE- 60 infants from working class Glasgow were observed every 4 weeks til 1yr old, then again at 18months old. The youngest was 5 weeks, oldest 23 weeks at start.
  • Observed in childrens homes, measure separation anxiety and stranger anxiety.
  • Asked mothers if protest shown with separation, consider left alone in room, left with people, left in pram outside house/shop, left in cot at night, put down after held, passed when in cot.
  • Measured stranger anxiety by approaching infant at start of every visit, noting when whimper
  • FINDINGS- 1/2 specific attachment 6-8 months, fear strangers 1 month later in all.
  • by 18months 13% only one attachment, 1/3 had 5+, in 65% first attach to mother, 30% mother first joint attachment, 3% father first attachment, 27% father first joint attachment.
  • Strength of attach peak in 1st month, large individual differences, intensly attached had high response mothers, weakly attached mothers fail to interact.
  • 39% person fed/bathed/changed baby not primary attachment.
  • CONCLUSIONS-specific attachment form 7months, multiple soon after to those willing to play
  • EVALUATION- high ecological validity as studied in homes- natural environment.
  • population/cultural bias, accuracy of parents diaries can be questionned.
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Strange Situation- Ainsworth

  • AIM- find a method assessing the quality of attachment by placing infant in a situation of mild distress, and of novelty- indicators of quality of attachment.
  • PROCEDURE- 100 middle class American infants/mothers put in set procedue all 3mins.
  • 1-introduce to room 2-left to investigate toys 3-stranger enter try interact with infant 4-mother leave stranger interact with infant 5-mother return to comfort 6-child left alone 7-stranger enter to try and comfort 8-mother returns and picks up child.
  • FINDINGS- Lot of individual differences, split infants into 3 broad categories:
  • Type A- avoidant insecure, 22%, mothers sometimes ignore, not orientate to mother, not concerned with abscence, little interest when return, no stranger anxiety.
  • Type B- securely attached, 66%, mothers sensitive, explore room, subdued when leave, greet positively on return, show stranger anxiety.
  • Type C- resistant insecure, 12%, mothers ambivalent, intense distress when leave, not explore room much, reject when return, stranger anxiety.
  • CONCLUSIONS- most infants are securely attached, type associated with mothers behaviour
  • EVALUATION- later found Type D- disorganised, freeze show stereotyped behaviour.
  • lab experiment, mundane realism, standardised, reliable/can be replicated.
  • extranous variables cause distress, ecological validity, assume PCG is mother.
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  • AIM- appropriate use strange situation on Japanese children, valid procedure across all cultures, compare American and Japanese children.
  • PROCEDURE- 60 middle class Japanese children aged 1yr and mothers, used the strange situation procedure.
  • FINDINGS- Type A- avoidant insecure, 0%
  • Type B- securely attached 68%, similar to American study.
  • Type C- resistant insecure 32%
  • In more detail, left alone step stopped 90% of time as so distressed, if not so distressed possibly 80% be classed as securely attached.
  • CONCLUSIONS- cross cultural variations in infants response to left alone/separation, may be due to less separation in Japan, infant sleep room with parents til 2yrs old.
  • Infants almost never alone, more than mild stress, not aim of original strange situation.
  • Lack of avoidant behaviour, seen as impolite so actively discouraged from young age.
  • Not have same meaning for Japanese infants as American, invalid assessment.
  • high control lab experiment, when infant in distress, the step was stopped 90% of the time.
  • limited sample, may not be appropriate to generalise- cultural/sub-cultural differences.
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Van Ijzendoorn

  • AIM- to see cross cultural variations in attachment across strange situation studies.
  • PROCEDURE- used a meta analysis of 32 strange situation studies from different countries.
  • FINDINGS- secure attachment is the highest/most common.
  • Type A was 2nd most common in western/industrialised countries.
  • Type C was 2nd most common in non-industrialised/collectivist countries.
  • More variation within a culture than between cultures.
  • CONCLUSIONS- strange situation has differnt meaning in different cultures.
  • cheaper/easier than collecting own results, studies in many countries.
  • half the studies were American, all the studies could have been carried out differently, coding issues, not every continent- no South America, Africa, Arab states, Australia, sample size not same for each country, don't know the size in most countries.
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Classical Conditioning

  • Learning via association
  • Pavlov- wired up dogs, when bell ring, food appears, however the dogs started to salivate at the bell and not the food, as associate bell with food and therefore salivate.
  • Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)- food
  • Unconditioned Response (UCR)- salivate
  • Conditioned Stimulus (CS)- sound of bell
  • Conditioned Response (CR)- salivate

In terms of attachment:

  • UCS- food
  • UCR- happy/satisfied
  • CS- mother/PCG
  • CR- happy/ satisfied
  • after multiple pairings, child forget food and still want mother around, works both ways as if baby not crying then mother also gets relief.
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Operant Conditioning

  • Learning via consequence/reward
  • B.F. Skinner- built Skinners box, press leaver to get food, half starved animal put in cage, as try to find way out, pull lever by accident, realise then press deliberately.
  • Also if green light, food available, red light not available, press when red get electric shock.

In terms of attachment:

  • child learns uncomfortable- food make better.
  • food provided by mother, also seen rewarding.
  • Food reward given if child cries/makes a fuss.
  • Pleasure having mother around re-inforced by food, bond develops
  • PCG rewarded as baby happy, not crying/grumpy.

Criticised by Schaffer and Emerson and Harlow-Harlow studies

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Social Learning Theory

  • Learning via observation and imitation of other people (role models), developed by Bandura.
  • Hay and Vespo argue parents act as role models for children and teach how to carry out relationships through own actions of looking after child.
  • It involves a number of components:
  • Role modelling- parent show child range affectionate behaviours e.g. holding/cuddling that child imitates.
  • Direct instruction- parents teach child reciprocate affection, e.g. give me a kiss goodbye.
  • Social facilitation- parents help/watch child carry out attachment behaviours, e.g. playing with friends/siblings.

The theory does not explain why attachments are so emotionally intense for both people involved in them.

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  • AIM- investigate attachment in monkeys.
  • PROCEDURE- place infant monkey in cage with 2 wire cylinders (mothers), one bare but provide milk, other covered towelling provide comfort.
  • If food cultivate attachment, expect monkey cling to bare cylinder.
  • FINDINGS- monkey spent most time on cloth mother, jump to when scared, used as secure base in which to explore, but not supply sufficient love for healthy psychological development, either indifferent/abusive to others, difficulty perentying.
  • CONCLUSIONS- contact comfort preferable to food, but not sufficient to grow healthliy, simply supplying food will not form the basis of attachment.
  • Another experiment, 4 young monkeys rasied on own without mother, first few months huddle together, devlop more independence, appeared no ill effects, infant-infant affectional bond just as effective as mother-infant bond.
  • supported by Schaffer and Emerson
  • unethical treatment of animals, not be generalised to humans.
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  • Studied the attachment relationships between mothers, babies and metapelets on Israeli Kibbutzim.
  • The metapelets provided full time care for new born babies allowing mothers to contine to work though some time was spent with parents.
  • The children were more attached to mothers, with some having little/no attachment to metapelets.
  • As they did majority of feeding, represents fundamental flaw in learning theory of attachment.
  • Suggest attachment far more complicated, and not to do with feeding.
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Bowlby's Theory

Bowlby's theory is made of 6 main features:

  • Innate- infants/carers programmed to become attached, it is a biological process as without it the infant will not survive with no adult attached to it to look after it.
  • Critical Period- attachment happens by age of 2.5yrs, or not happen, later add sensitive period 2.5-5yrs.
  • Continuity Hypothesis-relationships when younger affect relationships when older.
  • IWM- the main attachment provides an Internal Working Model of all other attachments.
  • Social Releaser- smiling, crying, waving, being cute, way for attention then attachment.
  • Monotropy- one main attachment for child.


  • Monotropy supported by cross-cultural studies, real life applications, major influential theory.
  • Deprived children still live normally, critical changed to sensitive period, outdated- based on behaviour from past, too general, all children are different- disabilities etc.
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PDD Model

There are 3 progressive reactions to separation:

  • PROTEST- child show great distress, calling/crying for mother, some appear panic stricken, anger/fear evident.
  • DESPAIR- children become calmer but apathetic, show little interest in anything, self comforting behaviours observed, e.g. thumb sucking and rocking.
  • DETACHMENT- children appear cope with separation, show more interest in surroundings, but actually hiding feelings, when mother return, show little interest and may be angry but attachment is soon rebuilt.


  • Practical implications- led radical change in hospitals, nursers shifts designed had regular contact with same children, encouraged bring home items with them.
  • individual differences to short term separation, older/secure attached not distress/detachment.
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Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis

  • Developed by Bowlby
  • Attachment is important for survival
  • Acts as a prototype for later relationships
  • predicts developmental difficulty if the secure attachment relationship goes wrong:
  • general development problems, specific issues with social development.
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Deprivation and Privation

  • Deprivation- When an attachment is formed then it is discontinued.
  • Privation- when no opportunity is given for an attachment to form.
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  • Children in orphanages showed signs of anaclitic depression
  • Symptoms include: apathy, withdrawal, helplesness, low appetite.
  • Survival rates of children raised in prison were better than those raised in orphanages.
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Spitz and Wolf

  • AIM- investigate effects of short-term and long-term deprivation on children who were institutionalised (hospitals and orphanages)
  • PROCEDURE- 91 infants/children put in orphanages/hospitals in USA and Canada, who had shown signs of depression after hospitalisation.
  • FINDINGS- showed signs of anaclitic depression, signs reversed with shorter stays- complete recovery after deprivation (less than 3 months)
  • Long term stay- rarely had full recovery from it.
  • CONCLUSIONS- while good medical/health care have importance, attachments and deprivation also play important role in well-being of child.
  • Separation and being deprived of main care giver has extreme consequences.
  • ecological validity, work continued over time- deprived continue have lower IQ etc.
  • cannot generalise as care in hospitals different today than in 1940s when study conducted, measurment of IQ difficult- based standardised tests criticised due to cultural differences.
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44 Juvenile Thieves- Bowlby

  • AIM- determine correlation maternal deprivation infancy, adolescent delinquency, see if thief have affectionless psychopathy (ap) more likely have had early separation than those didn't.
  • AP- lack normal affection, sense responsible, chronic anger, poor impulse control, no remorse
  • PROCEDURE- 44 teens referred child guidance clinic, lived biological parents, 44 teens referred emotional problems.
  • Intelligence, emotional attitude assessed by social worker, preliminary psychiatric history, interview child/mother early separation, childhood experiences.
  • Affectionless psychopathy diagnosed by discussions families/reports from school.
  • FINDINGS- out of 44 thieves, 14 were ap, of which 12 separated 6months +
  • out of 44 control, none ap, with 2 separated 6months +
  • CONCLUSIONS- emotional issues of control have no impact on psychopathy.
  • Young criminals prolongued separation 1st 2yrs more likely to be ap than those without.
  • Strong support of Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis
  • control group allow comparison, data indepth/rich due to interviews etc.
  • no control for normal children- not reffered to clinic, not distinguish deprivation and privation, could contribute differently.
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Koluchova Twins

  • AIM- investigate reversibility of privation, unplanned case study.
  • PROCEDURE- twins lost mother after birth, looked after social agency 1yr, fostered aunt 1yr, lived father, remarried, stepmum lock in cellar, subject beating for 5.5yrs.
  • No contact outside world, discovered then removed, had rickets, communication in gestures, no spontaneous speech.
  • FINDINGS- developed normally, no signs psychological abormality age 14.
  • Can be part down to 2 women who adopted them, form good relationship with adoptive mothers and siblings, both married, stable relationships later in life.
  • CONCLUSIONS- demonstrates the effects of early severe privation are reversible, latest reports 1991 continue make progess, made full recovery from earlier mistreatment.
  • challenge Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis.
  • raised normal home until 18months, form attachment be privation not deprivation, boys locked up together, form attachment to eachother, feral children complete isolation from prolongued human contact.
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Hodges and Tizard

  • AIM- investigate permanence long term effects privation due to institutionalisation, include emotional, social effects in adolescence.
  • PROCEDURE- 65 children taken to care before 4months opportunity sample, natural matched pairs design experiment, compared children raised at home.
  • age of 4yrs 24 been adopted, 15 restore natural home, rest remained institution.
  • Children assessed at 4, 8, 16 on emotionl/social competence through interview/self report.
  • FINDINGS- age 4, children not form deep attachment high attention seeking, at 8 differences between adopted and restored, most formed close relationships with caregivers, as attached as control group, at school attention seekings unpopular amongst peers.
  • At 16- adopted still closely attached, but attachment fragmented between restored, both less likely have "best friend" or part group or liked other children, many display bully behaviour.
  • CONCLUSIONS- early privation have negative effect on some to form relationships, some can be reversed, but some long lasting. There are practical implications.
  • matched pairs design.
  • IV cannot be directly manipulated, individual differences in each group, population bias
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Vandell and Corasaniti

  • AIM- effects of daycare on cognitive/social development on young children, see if the maternal deprivation hypothesis is correct.
  • PROCEDURE- sample 236 mainly middle class 8yr olds, different techniques to assess cognitive development, teacher ratings/grades, standardised tests, interviews.
  • FINDINGS- children with more extensive day care experiences since infancy had poorer academit and conduct report card grades and lower standardised test scores.
  • They were found to have poorer peer relationships also.
  • CONCLUSIONS- daycare had negative effect on young infants cognitive development.
  • Infants who spend early years in daycare more likely be "non-compliant" and have raised levels of aggression.
  • standardised tests, findings can be applied to understanding effects daycare on children, therefore make daycare more productive.
  • Sample not representative, lack external validity, other extraneous variables e.g. bad home life could have contributed to results.
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Campbell, Lamb and Hwang

  • AIM- examine the effects of daycare on children.
  • PROCEDURE- study children age 18months -3.5yrs in Sweden, 9 family based care, 30 nursery and 9 switch from both types, compared kids not get to daycare due to competition.
  • 18months before daycare observed play with family, assessed standard care receiving, observe daycare for 30mins at 2.5 and 3.5yrs. at 6.5. social competence measured, at 8.5 teachers asked give perceptions on behaviour, at 15 visit homes asked complete questionnaire on social development and style.
  • FINDINGS- daycare kids before 3.5 better social abilities, social competence stable between 3.5 and 15 years, kids social skills developed by 3.5 years.
  • CONCLUSIONS- good quality daycare children up to 3.5 years important for development social skills, competence persist through childhood/adolscence.
  • Kids spend long time day care become tired/frustrated to share adult attentions leading to bad interactions, more days shorter sessions better social benefits.
  • used perspective approach allow see long term effects, assessed before for baseline compare.
  • require sensitivity when dealing with parents/carers
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  • AIM- investigate the effects of daycare on social development of children.
  • PROCEDURE- video children in day nursery during first 10 weeks, children aged 3-4yrs.
  • observed variety measures include aggressiveness, closeness, frequency interaction.
  • FINDINGS- children attend more regularly were, more active, more sociable- looked for people to talk to, more contact with others, less aggressive.
  • children attend 5x a week more improved in manner- less aggressive etc. than those attend 2x a week, all of them better than those not attend at all.
  • CONCLUSIONS- daycare helps with the social development of children, there is a correlation between time spent and sociability of children.
  • Variables being measured decided upon
  • issues filming children, no control group, children not give informed consent, fluid concepts being measured- operationalise to make focus narrower.
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Implications for change in daycare

  • Features of high quality daycare- caregiver sensitive to child emotional needs, actively engage with environment, care consistent with minimal changes, low child-caregiver ratio associated with good quality daycare.
  • Consistency of care- Hodges and Tizard children unable form satisfactory attachment with different carers. Need to ensure mimimal turnover of staff.
  • Kagan found consistent emotional support a criterion for good daycare.
  • The key worker system- key worker assigneach child, act significant adult in nursery, attend childs needs develop into attachment figure times stress, provide emotional need of child.
  • Quality of care- key variable, 1/5 caregivers emotionally detached from child in care.
  • Howes found staff training improved carer sensitivity, more secure attachments.

Child given large amount of verbal interaction, stimulating toys/games, care sensitive infants needs, improve child developments. Highly trained staff needed.

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