• Created by: Kayleigh
  • Created on: 30-05-18 23:45


Attachment is a close two-way reciprocal emotional relationship or bond between two people, which is essential for emotional security. 

Macoby 1980 identified three characteristics that people with attachments have which are:

  • proximity
  • separation distress/ anxiety
  • secure base behaviour

When infants form attachments to caregivers they create signals in which the reciprocal attachment will understand in order to provide emotional support to their infant. 
Two ways of doing this are either:

  • Reciprocity - which is when the caregiver responds to the infant's signals or vice-versa, this is also known as turn taking. This is a form of interaction between an attached pair. 
  • Interactional synchrony -This is when the caregiver infants reflect each other's actions and emotions in a synchronised way. This is also known as mirroring.

Studies that show interactional synchrony and reciprocity:

Meltzoff and Moore 1977
studied mother-infant communication. They did this by getting the caregiver to interact with their infant then stop interacting and be neutral and not responding to their actions. The children then became distressed and showed attempts to gain the interaction back. 

Murray and Trevarthen 1985
Asked mothers to make a 'frozen face' and not have any interaction with their infants. The two month-year-old infants responded upset and attempted to gain their mother's interaction back.

Isabella et al 1989
Found that securely attached mother-infant pairs show more interactional synchrony in the first year of the infant's life.

Stages of attachment 

Shaffer and Emmerson 1964

Attachment is not formed at birth and they decided to create a study that reflects the process of how attachments form. 

  • Aim: To identify the distinct stages of which attachment forms and find a pattern in attachment forms. 
  • Procedure: A longitudinal study of 60 Glaswegian infants and their mothers from the working-class area in Glasgow. Mothers were asked to keep a diary of infants responses to leaving them alone in a room, left in a cot at night, being put down after being held by an adult etc. Each month for the first year and again at 18 months observations were conducted as well as interviews with the mothers. Questions such as whom the infants smile at first, whom they responded to, who caused the infant's separation distress.
    the attachment was measured in two ways: separation protest or separation anxiety and stranger anxiety. 
  • Findings: Most infants presented separation protest between the ages of 6-8 months and stranger anxiety displayed a month later. 
    Strongly attached infants had mothers who were attentive and responded quickly to emotional needs and gave more opportunity for interaction. Therefore weakly attached displayed the opposite. 
    Most infants developed multiple attachments, at 18 months around 87% had at least 2 attachments, with 31% having more than 8 attachments.
    Attachments to different people were responded to in the same or similar way to all attachments.
    39% of infants prime attachments were not the main carer. 
  • Conclusion

Stage 1: asocial stage 0-2 months
Infants can't distinguish people from objects and they both receive the same kinds of reactions.
Stage 2: indiscriminate


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