Unit 1: Developmental Psychology - Disruption of Attachment

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Key Study: Robertson and Robertson - Outline


1. Natural observations recorded in films.

2. 6 children aged under 3 were studied during periods of brief seperation from their primary attachment figure.

3. Laura - a hospital, John - a residnetial nursrey, Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate were looked after by the robertsons and given substitute emotional care.


Laura and John became depressed and withdrawn. The other children returned to their families happily. 

Physical seperation for the robertsons groups did not have an effect as substitute emotional care was offered. In contrast the emotional disruptions expereinced by laura and John had an effect. 

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Key Study: Robertson and Robertson - Evaluate

Emotional Vs Physical Disruption
Shown by Skeels and Dye who found that instituionalised children with low IQs improved after they were transferred to a home for mentally retarded adults. Skodak and Skeels found that after 1.5 yrs in a home childrens IQ improved to 92 points from 62 unlike the group who remained in the orphanage. 

Reversing Emotional Disruption - Bohman and Sigvardsson 
Studied over 600 adopted children in Sweden. At the age of 11 26% of them were classified as problem children. Ten years later after successsful children they were labelled as normal children. 

Role of Triggers 
bifulco studied 249 women who had lost mothers through separation or death before they were 17. This group was twice as likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Suggests early disruption in attachment may make an individual pschologically more vulnerable and can be triggered by stressful event late in life.

Individual Differences 
Interaction between security of attachment and the effects of attachmetn disruption. Children who are securley attached can cope better with disruption - children in institutional care react differently - suggests those who coped well were securely attached. 

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