Disruption of Attachment and Failure to Form Attachment

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  • Created by: joe
  • Created on: 07-04-13 12:37

Privation - Failure to develop an attachment bond, an attachment has never been present

Deprivation - An existing attachment is broken

Disruption of attachment 

Bowlby's theory predicted that disruption of attachment in early life is likely to have a negative effect on social and emotional development.

Key study: Robertson and Robertson (1963-1973)

Procedure: Naturalistic observations recorded in films. Six children (aged less than 3) were studied during periods of brief separation from their primary attachment figure. Laura was in hospital, John was in a residential nursery, and Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate were looked after by the Robinsons in their home where they received a high level of substitute emotional care.

Findings: Laura and John became depressed and withdrawn. The other children coped well and returned to their families happily. Physical separation, as in the case of Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate, did not have a negative outcome because substitute emotional care was offered. In contrast, the emotional disruption experienced by Laura and John did appear to have negative consequences. 

Validity: These were case studies of unique individuals and situations, which means they may lack generalisability. However, the data collected was rich in detail.

Research evidence

  • Spitz and Wolf observed that 100 'normal' children in institutional care became severely depressed within a few months of being there.
  • Skeels and Dye suggested that lack of emotional care may  harm intellectual development. This was based on a case where a group of institutionalised children with low IQ's later improved after they were transferred to a home for mentally retarded adults (substitute emotional care). This was then tested by Skodak and Skeels. One group of infants in institutional care was transferred to a home for mentally retarded adults, while a control group remained in the orphanage. After 1.5 years the IQs of the control group had fallen whereas the transferred group's IQ's had risen from 64 to 92 points. 
  • Bohman and Sigvardsson studied over 600 adopted children in Sweden. At the age of 11, 26% of them were classified as 'problem children'. Ten…


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