Attachment - KEY STUDIES

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  • Created by: Daisy.
  • Created on: 22-04-12 20:29

Klaus & Kenell (1976) - Skin-to-skin.

  • Klaus & Kenell looked at 2 groups of newly born infants:
  • Group 1 - allowed contact with mother during feeding in the first 3 days.
  • Group 2 - allowed extended contact with the mother for several hours a day.
  • Results:
  • After a month, the mothers of group 2 were found to cuddle their babies and make more eye contact.
  • Klaus & Kenell believed that this showed greater contact led to a stronger and closer bond between mother and child and provided evidence for a "sensitive period."


  • Criticisms:
  • The mothers were young and unmarried. (Lacks population validity.)
  • No dad might mean that the mothers tried to compensate for this.
  • Strengths:
  • This study supports the idea of a "sensitive period."
  • This study also changed the way babies were cared for in hospitals, by encouraging more physical contact.
  • Also, this study can be easily repeated.

Schaffer & Emerson (1964).

  • Longitudinal study on 60 babies at monthly intervals for the first 18 months of their lives.
  • The children were all studied in their own home.
  • Their interactions with their carers were observed and carers were interviews.
  • Evidence for the development of attachment was that the baby showed separation after the carer left.
  • Results
  • They discovered that a baby's attachments develop in the following sequence:
  • Up to 3 months of age: The newborn is predisposed to attach to any human.
  • After 4 months: Infants learn to distinguish primary and secondary caregivers but accept care from anyone.
  • After 7 months: Special preference for a single attachment figure. 
  • After 9 months: The baby becomes increasingly independent and forms several attachments.


  • Criticisms:
  • The parents were keeping daily diaries - although this can give qualitative date, it's reliability can be question. (socially desirable answers/biased.)
  • The babies studied were all from Glasgow - not easy to generalize to the wider population.
  • Strengths:
  • The babies were studied in a natural environment which makes it high in ecological validity.
  • This study is also ethically sound as it was carried out in their own homes.

Harlow's Monkeys (1959) - "The origins of love."

  • Harlow carried out a number of variations using sixteen young isolated monkeys.
  • The important variations was that one monkey was in a cage with a wire mother that provided food and another mother covered with cloth.
  • This provided the monkey with a choice when being introduced to a scary situation: food or comfort. 
  • Results:
  • The monkeys would spend more time clinging to the cloth mother and occasionally feeding from the other.
  • When monkeys were stressed by a scary mechanical…



schaffer and emerson study is longitudinal for 18 months - not years

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