Clarke-Stewart et al-Positive Effects of Day Care
Method: This study was made up of a series of seperate observations, to examine the effects of day care. One experiment looked at the peer relationships of 150 children aged 2-3 years, who came from different social backgrounds. In another experiment, the strength of attachment in a group of 18-month-old children was studied. These children had at least 30 hours of day care per week. The 'strange situation' was used. The results were compared with those of children who had 'low intensity' day care (less than 10 hours per week).
Results: The 2-3 year olds who had experienced day care were good at coping with social situations and negotiating with each other. In the 'strange situation' experiment, the 18-month-olds who had high intensity day care were just as distressed when seperated from their mothers as those who had low intensity day care.
Conclusion: Day care can have a positive effect on the development of peer relationships in 2-3 year olds. Attachment in 18-month-olds is not affected by temporary seperation.
Evaluation: The observations were controlled, so the study could easily be replicated. However because the situation was artificial, the study lacks ecological validity and the results can't be generalised to other children.
Shea - Positive Effects of Day Care
Method: Infants aged between 3 and 4 were videotaped in the playground during their first 10 weeks at nursery school. Their behaviour was assessed in terms of rough-and-tumble play, aggression, frequency of peer interaction, distance from the teacher and distance from the nearest child.
Results: Over the 10 weeks the children's peer interaction increased and their distance from the teacher decreased. There was a decrease in aggression and an increase in rough-and-tumble play. The increase in sociability was more evident in children who attended day care 5 days a week in those who went 2 days a week.
Conclusion: Day care causes children to become more sociable and less aggressive.
Evaluation: Naturalistic observation, meaning the study has high ecological validity because none of the behaviour was manipulated. However, it means that the results could have been affected by extraneous variables. The behaviour was open to interpretation, so the findings could be biased - e.g. it could be difficult to differentiate between 'aggression' and 'rough-and-tumble play'.
Belsky & Rovine - Negative Effects of Day Care
Method: Infants were placed in the 'strange situation' to assess how secure their attachments with their mothers were. One group had experienced no day care and one had experienced at least 10 hours of day care per week before their first birthday.
Results: The infants who had received day care were more likely to have an insecure attachment type. They were either 'insecure-avoidant' (type A) - ignored their mother and didn't mind if she left, or 'insecure-resistant' (type C) - uneasy around their mother and upset if she left. Those who hadn't had day care were more likely to be securely attached (type B).
Conclusion: Day care has a negative effect on an infant's social development.
Evaluation: The 'strange situation' is a controlled observation, so there was good control of the variables. However, this means that the study lacks ecological validity, because it created an artificial situation. DiLalla also found negative effects on children's peer relationships - the more day care children had, the less prosocially that behaved, i.e. the less they helped, shared, etc.