AQA A Level Psychology Notes - ATTACHMENT

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  • Created on: 27-05-21 20:49

Describe and evaluate research into caregiver-infant interactions 



 Reciprocity is when the action of one partner elicits a response from the other partner. Caregiver and infant interactions are reciprocal in a way that each partner takes turns to respond to the other in a conversation-type manner. The signals the infant shows allow the adult to anticipate their response and respond accordingly. Brazelton suggested that this reciprocal behaviour as an infant is an important precursor to later communications.


Interactional synchrony is when the infant and caregiver mirror each other's actions, in terms of facial and body movements and emotions. Interactional synchrony is form of rhythmic interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual focus. This interaction is said to be synchronised when the pair display the behaviours simultaneously.


Meltzoff and Moore (1977) conducted using an adult model who displayed three facial expressions to an infant with a placed in their mouth (to prevent a response). Following the display, the dummy was removed, and the child’s expression was filmed. They found an association between the behaviour of the infant and that of the model in children ages between 3 days – 3 weeks. This shows that imitation behaviours must be innate. 

 Findings of research into caregiver and infant interactions may internal validity due to difficulties in interpreting infant behaviours. Infant mouths are in fairly constant motion and the expressions being tested (i.e., tongue sticking out, yawning, smiling) occur frequently. This makes it difficult to distinguish between general behaviours and specific imitated behaviours. Therefore, the study may not have been measuring infant responses at all and just measuring general behaviours.


A further issue with the study conducted by Meltzoff and Moore is that other psychologists have failed to replicate the findings of the study. Koepke (1983) attempted to replicate the findings but was unable to produce the same result. However, Meltzoff and Moore counter argued that Koepke’s study was less carefully controlled. This shows that findings from interactional synchrony research lack reliability. 


However, evidence to support Meltzoff and Moore’s study can be found in a similar study conducted by Murray and Trevarthen (1985). In this study, infants were shown a video tape of their mothers with a ‘still face’. The infants tried to interact with their mothers but turned away after gaining no response. The fact that the infant was actively eliciting a response shows that the infant is an active and intentional partner in the mother-infant interaction, further supporting the notion that such behaviours are innate rather than learned.  


One important feature of interactional synchrony is that there is some variation between infants. Isabella (1989) found that more strongly attached caregiver-infant pairs showed greater interactional synchrony. This suggests that not all children engage in interactional synchrony and that Meltzoff and Moore’s original findings may have overlooked individual differences which could be a mediating factor.

Describe and evaluate Schaffer and Emerson’s stages of attachment  



 Schaffer and


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