A2 Child Psychology Edexcel

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Studies the lifespan from before birth to adolescence. Child psychology focuses on the experiences we have in our early childhood and how these affect our cognitive, emotional and social development. Specific childhood experiences such as neglect, daycare, and learning difficulties are studied to see the effect on development.

Attachment: a close two-way emotional bond between two people.

Proximity seeking: staying close to an attachment figure.

Secure base behaviour: regularly returning to an attachment figure when exploring.

Stranger anxiety: anxiety in the presence of strangers.

Separation anxiety: anxiety at being apart from an attachment. 

Evolution: the processes whereby species change over generations. 

Critical period: a time during the development of a child or animal when an event must happen if normal development is to take place.

Innate: an inborn tendency to behave in a particular way.

Monotrophy: the tendency to direct infant attachment behvaiours towards a single main figure.

Social releaser: innate behaviours designed to stimulate reaction from adults.

Internal working model: a mental representation of the first relationship, which acts a prototype for later life.

Interactional synchrony: the synching of adults baby’s actions so that they take turns and imitate each other’s movement. 

Sensitive responsiveness: the ability of the carer to pick up and respond to non-verbal signals from the baby.

We tend to behave in particular ways towards our attachment figures. We want to be stay close to them – proximity seeking. When we get stressed we use secure base behaviours by returning to our attachment.

Evolutionary psychologist study possible evolutionary basis of human behaviour. The most basic principle of evolutionary psychology is that a behaviour that increases the chance of an individual’s survival. This is adaptive behaviour.

Bowlby (1957) found that the close emotional bond between parents and children is adaptive as it increases the probability of the child surviving to the adulthood.

Lorenz (1935) describe the process of imprinting, in which newly hatched birds attachment themselves to the first moving objects they see and follow it wherever it goes. This allows them to be kept safe. This is the critical period in which imprinting needs to take place. Imprinting carries a clear evolutionary advantages to birds because chicks that remain close to the mother are less vulnerable to predators. However is imprinting is not true attachment because it is one-way process only really occurring in the chicks. In mammals, mothers and infants develop a two-way attachment. Secure base behaviours, proximity seeking and separation anxiety will have survival value.

Jay Belsky (1999) has suggested that insecure attachment can actually be an advantage in particular circumstances. Stress influences parenting style and that this in turn affects the quality of attachment. Belsky suggest that parenting styles are adaptive in preparing individuals for their environment. An adult living in a high morality environment where there is a high probability that anyone they attach to is going to die young, it is actually an advantages to have an insecure attachment. The insecure adults with less intense attachments to their loved ones…


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