studies on attachment

studies/research on attachments

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klaus and kennell (1976)

They tested whether early skin to skin contact led to closer bonds between mother and child.

  • control group- they saw their babies after delievery and were bought to them for feeds
  • experimental group- they had one extra hour of skin to skin contact after the birth and then an extraq 5 hours of contact over the next 3 days
  • after visiting and babies after a month then a year. the extended contact mothers showed more soothing behaviours abd maintained closer proximity.
  • they concluded that their is a sensitive period.
  • however they have been critised because the mothers were unmarried therefore gave the babies extra attention
  • study by dechateau on swedish midddle class mothers found the same results.
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Schaffer and Emerson 1964

They studied 60 babies in Glasgowvisiting them monthly for a year then at 6 months. they collected data considering, stranger distress and separation anxiety.

  • they used interviews and observations to collected their data.
  • 65% of their first attachment was to the mother, 27% to the m&f, 3% to the father
  • 40% of the babies first attachment figure wasn't the person who carried out the most physical care e.g feeding-contrast to learning theory
  • by using observations and interviews they collected rich amounts of data.
  • high in ecological validity
  • culture relativity- fathers
  • unstressful as it was carried out at home-compare with ainsworth study
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hay and vespo 1988

They use the social learning theory by bandura to explain attachments

  • they believe that children learn through role  modelling  showing  affectionate behaviours
  • through direct instruction" give me a kiss goodbye and through social facilitation playing with friends and siblings
  • this theory takes the continuity hypothesis of attachment in account
  • reductionist as it doesn't consider evolutionary factors.
  • it doesn't explain why attachments are so emotionally intense for those involved.

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Hazan and Shaver 1987

They conducted a study supporting Bowbly's internal working model. they put a love quiz in a local amercian newspaper. is love in adulthood directly related to the attachment type as a child? they were asked about which on of the following best applied to them

  • im uncomfortable being to close to others, i dont trust them. People often want to be closer than im comfortable being
  • i find it relatively easy to be close to others and them depend on me and me on them.
  • i worry that my partner doesn't love me. i want to get very close to my partner and this sometimes scares people away.
  • 1st on 215 men and 415 women randomly selected then on 108 undergraduate students
  • secure types expressed a lasting believe in love
  • anxious avoidant types didn't believe that love happen in real life
  • anxious ambivalent types fell in love easily but rarely found true love.
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research against continuity of attachment

Zimmerman 2000- carried out a longitudinal  study of 44 children in Germany.

  • their attachment types were assessed at the age of 12- 18 months using separation and stranger anxiety.
  • they were reassessed at the age of 16 using interviews focusing on their relationships with their parents.
  • he also recorded the life events such parental divorce or death. he concluded that childhood attachment type wasn't a good predictor of attachments in later life.
  • the impact of serious life events was more important. that continuity only applies when serious life events haven't impacted the child.

Rutter and quiton 1988 found that women who had diffucult early experiences developed security if they had positive school experiences and strong adult relationships in later life.


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  • in schaffer and emerson study they found that multiple attachments were the norm rather than an exception
  • multiple AT -29% of AT at 7 months, 10 months 59% and at 18 months 87%.
  • at 18 months only half the sample where attached to their mothers and a third strongly attached to their fathers.
  • Ross 1975- clear positive correlation between the of number nappies the father has changed and the strength of the child's attachment
  • lamb 1983- babies preferred fathers to mothers as playmates because it's more physical and unpredictable.
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research against ainsworth

It depends on the babies temperament ( how much the babies seeks human company, how easily they become upset, awake or slept- fox 1991

  • there is a strong relationship between the attachment types of child and parent, this supports the claim that AT is related to inbuilt temperaments
  • easy babies may go on to be securely attached whereas slow to warm up babies may be avoidant, difficult babies ambivalent.

main and Solomon 1986- created a fourth type called type d- disorganised attachment. the behaviour pattern of these babies were inconsistent in the different episodes. they didn't fit many of the 3 AT types. 

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cultural variation

van ijzendoorn and kroonenberg 1988- carried out a meta analysis in 8 countries using ainsworth's strange situation.over 2,000 babies were studied.

  • secure attachments were the most common in all cultures. the lowest in china and the highest in Britain and Sweden.
  • avoidant ATs were most common in west Germany. rare in Israel and Japan.
  • ambivalent ATs were common in Israel, china, Japan. lowest in Sweden
  • their were also differences within the same cultures
  • large sample- high population validity 
  • over half the studies were carried out in America. 27/32 of the studies were in individualistic cultures and only 5 in collective cultures. questioning the validity of the research
  • the strange situation was developed in American therefore may only be suited to studying attachments in this type of culture. Goldberg 2002 argues that we can only make valid interpretations in cross cultural studies if we understand child rearing in that culture.
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The age of the child-schaffer and callender(1959)

  • they studied 76 babies between the age of 3 and 51 weeks who were dat a children's hospital.they found out that that the strength of the child's response was strongest at 12-18 months of age. this may be related to the development of language skills and ability to understand that attachment figure will return- maccoby 1980.
  • Barrett (1997) argued that the stages in the PDD model are misleading. A child's first response is not protest but an effort to cope with the feelings produces by separation.
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privation 1

  • koluchosa (1972,1977 n 1991)-  2 czechoslovakia twin boys suffered serious privation at the age of 18 months to 7 years, by their father and stepmother. they were kept in a cellar, starved and beaten. when they were found they had no speech, serious health probs and malnutrition.
  • they were then taken to a special needs skool for rehabilation and were fostered then adopted by two sisters whoo provided a secure home for them
  • they then developed strong emotional bonds with their new family and developed average intelligence, by 1977 they attended mainstream skool and were happy and socialable.
  • they 1991 Koluchova reported that early psychological damage had been totally repaired.

supports- privation can be undone

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privation 2

  • skuse (1984)-  reported 2 sisters that were brought up by mother with severe learning difficulties and may have had a mental illness. they were kept in a small room and tied to the bed with dog leads to kept the flat clean.
  • they were found at the age of 2 and a half(Mary) and Louise at 3 and a half. they had no real speech and no evidence of play.
  • after speech therapy, louise developed normal speech and began skool at the age of 5. however Mary didn't developed language skills and moved to an autistic unit at 7 and a half. their brother was raised in a different family and remained autistic and had severe learning difficulties.

ethical and methodological isssues

  • children are unable to give informed consent. carers may feel under pressure to continue with the research. they feel like their just objects of psychological research.
  • because case studies are retrospective it's difficult to establish accuracy and draw valid conclusions.-unlike tizard and hodges
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deprivation and privation in institutions 1

Tizard and Hodges (1984 and 1989) carried out a natural experiment which examined the long term effects of emotional privation on 65 children brought up in a children’s home until they were 4 years old.

  • the institutions had a high staff turnover to prevent children becoming upset if the staff left their jobs. they were provided with good physical care and showed no cognitive deficits.
  • by the age of 2 the children signs of disinhibited attachments. they would seek adults attentions and cry when they left even though they had no attachment to them.
  • at the age of 4 they were either restored, adopted or stayed - iv. 

 close attachment at 8- RC 6/13, AC 20/21.

rejecting or hostile- RC 7/13, AC 1/21

close attachment at 16- RC 5/9, AC 17/21

rejecting or hostile- RC 4/9, AC 4,21

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  •  Relationships with peers and siblings -the restored group had the worse relationships with their siblings than the adoptees    All 3 groups raised in the institution had difficulties with peer relationships and were less likely to belong to a crowd
  • They were attention seeking from adults and members of the restored group were more argumentative
  •  adopted  group seemed to develop good family relationships. But the restored group continued to experience some problems and difficulties in their family relationships and siblings. Both groups wanted to please adults but less able to from relationships with those outside the family.  They used in-depth interview, questionnaires to teachers and self report measures to collect information
  •   originally 65 children were in the sample but only 51 were studies at the age of 8. Those who continue to participants may not be a representative group.   
  • No control, natural experiment. It is possible that there may have been differences and perhaps the adopted group were more socially skilled making them easier place in adoptive families
  • Ethical issues- the families shouldn’t have been placed under nay pressure to continue with the experiment. The researchers should not be judgemental in interviews= demand characterises
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Rutter (2007), longitudinal study which began in 1998. 111 Romanian orphans were adopted into British families.  Rutter wanted to see if good care could compensate for the privation the children had suffered.

  • this was a natural experiment with age of adoption being the naturally occurring independent variable (IV).  Rutter is studying three groups:Adopted before the age of 6 month. Adopted between 6 months- 2 years. UK adoptees < 6 months.
  • By the age of six years children were making very good recoveries, however, those adopted between 6-24 months had a much higher level of disinhibited attachment- 26% compared with 3.8 from uk adoptees.
  • In 2007 Rutter returned to the children (then aged eleven years) and found that some had made recoveries but about half of those diagnosed with the condition at the age of six still had it at the age of eleven. 54%- they also were recieving help from special educational n/or mental health service
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campbell, lamb and hwang (2000) conducted a study on children in Sweden how attended childcare between the ages of 18 months and 3 and a half years.

  • 9-family based care. 30- nursery. 9 switching from family based to nursery care. they were compared with a group of children who didn't attended any type of daycare
  • at 18 months before they started daycare. the children were observed in their homes, playing with friends using the Caldwell home inventory to assess the quality of the child's environment.
  • when they started day care they were observed playing with peers for 30 mins to c how socially skilled they were before they started daycare.this was repeated at age 2 and 3 and a half years.
  • at 6 and a half the care giver is asked to describe the child's social skills. 8 and a half, class teachers were asked to give their view. 
  • 15 years, they were asked to fill a self report questionnaire. the friendship quality qnnaires and social style qnnaires.
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daycare 2

  • child who spent long days in daycare under the age of 3 and a half were less socially competent. but those who spent more days but shorter hours were more socially competent. because they get tried and frustrated
  • those who attended high quality care before the age of 3 and a half developed better social abilities. these children continued to be social capable and the 3 intervals.
  • this study suggests that good quality early childcare at least to the age of 3h is important in order for it to lead good social skills for life.
  • prospective approach therefore we can c the long term effects of daycare.
  • rich amount of data from a lot of sources.
  • this research is based in Sweden with well funded daycare. may not be able to compare to other countries.
  • parental consent is required
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positive and negative effects of daycare

negative- belsky (2006), suggest that children who have experienced daycare tend to show advanced cognitive and language development but also show higher levels of prob behaviours including aggression towards peers, authority figures as they grow older

it's about the quality of care- borge(2004) carried out a study on 3,431 2 to 3 year olds in canada comparing home reared children to those in daycare. maternal questonnaires were given to asses the child's aggression.he/she also took family background, occupational background of parents and education, number of siblings. the finding showed that aggression was significantly higher in homereared children than in daycare children.

different types of daycare- melhuish(1990), conducted a quasi- experiment. he compared children's care with childminders, nurseries and relatives. the adult to child ratio was highest with relatives and lowest in nurseries. contact with other child was lowest with relatives.he assesses the children's language skills and cooperation with other children at 18 months and 3 years. at 18 months babies that were under relatives care showed the highest language development and least development with nursery care. at 3 years the nursery children were still behind but showed more higher levels social skills with other children.

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Afnan Al-Safani


very interesting , great for my psychology revision!


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