AS AQA A Psychology: Attachments Studies


Developmental Psychology (Attachments)


Mary Ainsworth: The Strange Situation

-       Devised an assessment technique to investigate how attachments might vary between children.

-       Secure attachment (70%) – distressed at separation, seek comfort at reunion, behave differently to stranger

-       Insecure avoidant (20%) – little distress when separated, avoid contact at reunion, treat stranger similarly

-       Insecure resistant (10%) – very distressed at separation, resist contact at reunion, wary of stranger

-       AO2: only identifies type of attachment to the mother/sample is biased (100 middle class American families – cant be generalized)/low ecological validity


John Bowlby: Evolutionary Perspective

-       A child has an innate need to attach to one main attachment figure (monotropy)

-       A child should receive the continuous care from this caregiver for the first two years of life (critical period)

-       Social releasers encourage care giving from nearby adults

-       AO2: Against - Schaffer & Emerson and Rutter

For - Harlow


Harry Harlow: Monkey Experiment

-       Some kept in cages with both wire & cloth surrogate mothers, others with just one -> sometimes fed by wire, other times by cloth

-       Monkeys spent most time clinging to cloth mother (prefer comfort) monkeys with only wire mothers = stress

-       AO2: ethical issues -> monkeys reared in isolation, unable to form attachments


Hodges & Tizard: Effects of Privation

-       Longitudinal study on the development of 65 children

-       Naturally occurring independent variable

-       Bowlby = correct to emphasize the importance of the early years but delay of formation of attachments don’t necessarily persist into adulthood

-       AO2: interviews & questionnaires can produce answers affected by social desirability – responses inaccurate – affecting results

Robertson & Robertson: Syndrome of distress

-       1) Protest &


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