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Caregiver-infant interactions

Reciprocity - Both infant and mother respond to eachother-s signals and each elicits a response from one another.

Interactional synchrony - Mother and infant reflect both the actions and emotions of the other and do this in a co-ordinated way.

Observing infants is rather difficult.

Controlled observation that are recorded capure small details for later analysis.

Observations don't tell the purpose of synchrony and reciprocity

Socially sensitive research about working mothers.

Attachment figures

The majority of babies first form attachments to the mother adn then form secondary attachments to other family members.

Fathers role in attachment is more to do with play and stimulation rather than nurturing.

The key to the attachment relationship is the level of responsiveness not the gender of the parent.

Inconsistent findings on the puprose of fathers

Children develop normally in absence of fathers, how important is the role of the father

Schaffer and Emerson: Glasgow babies

Observing 60 babies in glasgow. The babies were visited by a researcher where questions were asked to the mother about the babies attitudes towards seperation in everyday situations.

They found that between 25 and 52 weeks, 50% of the babies showed signs of seperation anxiety. By 40 weeks 80% of the babies had a specific attachment and 30% had multiple attachments.

Natural observation - Good external validity

Longitudinal study - Internal validity

Small, culturally bound sample

Stages of attachment

1. Asocial stage 

Babies show some preference for familiar adults.

2. Indiscriminate attachment

From 2-7 months babies display more observable behaviour, showing preference and recognising familiar adults. They accept comfort from any adult.

3. Specific attachment

Around 7 months babies show stranger anxiety and seperation anxiety, attachments to the primary caregiver are made.

4. Multiple attachments

Babies show attachment behaviour to other regular caregivers. By 1 year the majority of babies have made secondary attachments.

Asocial stage is practically unobservable

The age at whch multiple attachmnets devleop is very dependent on the type of society

Animal Studies: Lorenz and Harlow

Lorenz's Geese

Lorenz hatched a batch of goose eggs, 1/2 with himself as the first thing they saw and the other 1/2 with the mother. He found that the incubator group followed him around. 

He names this process imprinting whereby bird species attach themselves to the first moving object they see. He also identified a critical period where imprinting needs to take place if it is to happen at all.

Generalisability to humans

Harlows monkeys

Harlow reared 16 monkeys on either a wire mother or a clothed mother. When exposed to frightening conditions, despite which mother the monkey was fed and reared by, they prioritised contact comfort over food by seeking comfort from the clothed mother.

He also found that the monkeys that were rearede with the wire mothers suffered sever developmental defects such as aggression and being unskilled at mating.

Showed importance of contact comfort over food

Practical application in social work

Ethical issues

Explanations of attachment: Learning theory and Bowlby's monotropic theory

Learning theory suggests…


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