Social Development Studies

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  • Created on: 31-12-15 16:44


Schaffer & Emerson

  • 60 Glaswegian infants of different ages
  • observed their interactions with their parents
  • developed the 4 stages of attachment as a result:

1. Asocial (6-8wks) - response to animate & inanimate objects in the same way

2. Diffuse (6wks-8mths) - no preference shown to a particular individual

3. Single Strong Attachment (7-12mths) - strong preference shown to a particular individual

4. Multiple Attachments (12mths+) - attachment to several people, including grandparents

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Immediate Physical Contact

Klaus & Kennel

  • state that parents who have more physical contact with their children during the critical period form better attachments than those who don't

Myers states that immediate physical ontact is not necessary for attachments to develop

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Melzoff & Moore

  • 2 - 3 week olds
  • studied their facial expressions
  • told adults to carry out actions such as a lip protrusion & tongue pull
  • infants clearly moved in response to action
  • held to be an attempt to imitate

Abravanel & DeYong showed through study that children do not imitate objects as they do humans

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Interactional Synchrony

Condon & Sander

  • state that adults' and childrens' movements can be matched
  • described these movements as a 'dance'
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Interactional Synchrony

Isabella et al.

  • states that stronger attachments form between parents and children who have interactional synchrony
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Interactional Synchrony

Murray & Trevathen

  • told parents to adopt a 'frozen expression' when interacting with child
  • child became distressed
  • and tried to get the parents attention

This suggests that interactional synchrony exists as a temporary removal of it lead to distress.


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Snow & Ferguson

  • developed the theory of motherese -
  • a language between parents and children
  • it is often high-pitched and repetitive
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Papousek et al.

  • conducted a study into motherese
  • found that mothers speak in higher pitches when it is their child's turn to speak
  • this was said to encourage interactional synchrony

BUT many people talk to children in high-pitched tones and do not form strong attachments. This then introduces the factor of time spent with the child - not considered within the theory by Snow & Ferguson.

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Animal Research


  • Rhesus monkey reared away from mother
  • they were given a cloth mother and a wire mother which they could recieve food from
  • the monkeys preferred to spend time with the cloth mother
  • when scared of the 'diabolic' toy introduced, they immediately went to the cloth mother
  • this was despite the wire mother 'feeding'
  • suggests that the monkeys attach for comfort over 'survival' (being fed)

BUT this is lacks ecological validity - they monkey wouldn't have 2 mothers. There is also a question of generalisability, which Darwin's theory of behavioural continuity would support.

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The Communication Theory


  • proposed the communication theory
  • states that children will attach most strongly with those who communicate with them the best
  • this is the person most sensitive to the child's needs

This links to 'sensitive responsiveness' by Ainsworth

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Survival Theory of Attachments


  • study on imprinting
  • reared geeslings away from their mother
  • they grew up following and interacting with him as if he was their mother
  • this was to be fed and protected from prey

This suggests the geese attach in order to survive - but can we generalise this suggestion to humans?

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Types of Attachment (1)


  • used 8 standardised steps to observe attachment types of 8-12 months old
  • observed stranger anxiety and separation anxiety

1. mother enters room with child; puts child on the floor to play

2. the stranger enters and interacts with the mother

3. the mother leaves

4. the stranger tries to comfort the child

5. the mother enters (1st reunion) & the stranger leaves

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Types of Attachment (2)

6. the mother leaves and the baby is left alone

7. the stranger enters again and tries to comfort the distressed child

8. the mother comes back in (2nd reunion)

The child's reaction upon the 2 reunions was observed in order to develop an establishment of the attachment type.

The standardised nature of the procedure means it can be easily replicated and so it reliable

BUT it is ethnocentric as the mothers were all white and middle classed

ALSO Ainsworth used a lab and although it was made to look natural, it was not a naturalistic setting.

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Types of Attachment (3)


1. Secure - estimated to be 70% of the population

children are confident mother will not permanently leave; easily comforted when she returns; experience stranger anxiety

2. Insecure Avoidant - estimated to be 15% of the population

children are distressed when separated; avoid comfort when reunited; cannot be comforted by strangers

3. Insecure Resistant - estimated to be 15% of the population

children become VERY distressed when separated; angry rejects at comfort, despite wanting attention; cannot be comforted by strangers

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Sex Differences in Children's Friendships


  • used scales that rated friendship and play
  • and interview that rated peers
  • the answers from children showed distinct differences between the ideas about friendships of boys and girls

BOYS: were likely to form big groups, with each member being friends and focusing on group status and harmony

GIRLS: were likely to form small and intimate groups, where each memebr was focused on 1-1 relationships

This suggests a difference in friendship formation of male and female children

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Sex Differences in Children's Friendships

Waldrop & Halverson

  • states that male children form extensive groups, where they each value solidarity and collectivity
  • states that female children form intensive groups, with a value of 1-1 relationships and closeness

These suggestion coincide with Benenson's findings.

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Sex Differences in Children's Friendships

Douvan & Adelson

  • boys need groups to defy authority
  • girls feel no need to defy authority and so can have smaller friendship groups
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Sex Differences in Children's Friendships

Benenson & Christakos

  • 60 girls and 60 boys from 10-15 years old

1. girls' friendships lasted longer than boys'

2. girls were more concerned by the thought of friendships ending than boys were

3. girls recognised when they had done somthing that effected their friendships, where boys didn't

4. girls claimed to have more 'best friends' than boys

This shows that girls are much more concerned with the fragility of their friendships than boys, showing a differing set of attitudes.

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Sex Differences in Children's Friendships


1. girls were more comfy with 1 best friend 

2. girls were less likely to admit a third person and more likely to be jealous of that person

3. girls showed affection towards their friends (writing notees etc.)

4. girls shared information intimately, whilst boys shared them amongst their groups

5. girls were more sensitive to the thought of losing friendships

this concides with Benenson & Christkos' study, showing a difference in attitude and higher level of intimacy amongst females

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Age-Related Change in Friendship

Hinde et al.

  • state that by the age of 4, 50% of children have playmate who they spend 30% of their time with
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Age-Related Change in Friendship

Lewitt et al.

  • state that at 7, children feel the same closeness with friends as they do with family
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Age-Related Change in Friendship


  • states that between 7-10 years, children are more likely to confide in family members
  • BUT by the age of 15, are more likely to confide in friends

this shows a development of closeness, along with Lewitt et al.'s & Hinde et al.'s suggestions

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Age-Related Change in Friendship

Bigelow & LaGaipa

  • asked children to write the 'best friend essay'
  • 21 dimesions were reviewed based around what is seen as important for friendships

YOUNGER CHILDREN: showed more of an interest in general play and proximity

OLDER CHILDREN: showed more of an interest in similarity, loyalty and acceptance

this suggets that children's ideas about the important factors of friendships change as they age

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Popularity & Rejection


  • developed the 5 different types of children

1. Popular

2. Average

3. Controversial

4. Neglected

5. Rejected

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Social Skills


  • gave social skills training to unpopular children
  • the children learned skills, such as how to share and take turns
  • they became more popular

suggests a lack of social skills is a reason for unpopularity

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Personality Characteristics


  • used naturalistic observation
  • observed how popular, rejected and neglected children approached and socialised

POPULAR: watched, approahed and made group-oriented statements

NEGLECTED: watched but did not approach

REJECTED: were active and aggressive, disrupting plat and being uncooperative

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The Internal Working Model

Hazan & Shaver

  • linked Ainsworth's Attachment Types to popularity

Secure - happy to depend and get close; no fear of abandonment etc.

Insecure Avoidant - difficulty trusting and depending; nervous with closeness

Insecure Resistant - afraid of abandonment; disappointed with a lack of closeness

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Vaughn & Langlois

  • found a strong correlation between attractiveness and popularity - stronger amongst girls than boys
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  • describes an urge to exclude the 'deviant' child


  • developed 3 friendship types:

1. Maintained - there at both the beginning and end of the year

2. Dissovled - there at the beginning of the year but not at the end

3. Newly formed - not there at the beginning of the year, but there at the end

Kandel states that adoption of someone's interests can lead to popularity, as seen within the 'newly formed' frienships

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Consequences of Rejection

Cowen et al.

  • children rated negatively at the age of 8 by peers were more likely to develop psychiatric issues

Duck et al.

  • rejected children are more likely to develop schizophrenia, depression etc.

Kuperschmidt & Coie

  • conducted a 7 year, longitudinal study
  • related sociametric status to negative life outcomes
  • if rejected at 11, children were 3 times more likely to be in trouble with the police
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Consequences of Rejection


  • asked 10 year olds to rate who they liked the most and least
  • 2 groups formed

'friended' - rated highly

'chumless' - reated lowest; no two-way friendships

  • observed again at 23 years old
  • rejected children had a lower quality of life (jobs etc.)
  • 'chumless' children showed signs of mental illness

suggests that rejection during childhood can result in extreme negative effects on future life

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  • study of Genie
  • suffered cruelty from parents, had minimal food with no communication
  • was beaten when she made noise
  • never formed attachments and could not talk
  • had little social and cognitive development
  • years later she developed some language skills
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  • studied Czech twins
  • put into care until 18 months atfter mother died
  • returned to father and stepmother
  • terrified of people and made no speech skills

AT 18mths-7yrs - relied on gestures to communicate

9yrs - twins fostered to loving family

14yrs - twins essentially 'normal'

20yrs- both married into loving relationships

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Rutter et al.

  • Romanian Orphanages
  • studed at 4 months, 6 months and 11 years
  • children adopted to good families before 6 months old showed normal social development
  • children adopted to good families after 6 months old disinhibited attachment and had problems with peers
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Hodges & Tizard

  • studied 65 children placed in care before 4 months
  • workers told not to form attachment with children
  • some children adopted, some returned
  • interviewed at 8 and 16 years
  • the adopted children had better attachments with adoptive family than 'restored' children

this may be because the 'restored' children were returned to the troubled homes they were removed from. It refutes the matenral deprevation hypothesis

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