Schaffer's stages of attachment

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  • Stages of attachment:
  • Asocial stage -  (the first few weeks). Baby's behaviour towards inanimate objects and humans is quite similar. Some preference for familiar adults (more easily calmed by them). Babies are also happier in the presence of other humans. 
  • Indiscriminate attachment -  (2-7 months). Babies now display more observable social behaviour, with a preference for people rather than inanimate objects. They recognise and prefer familiar adults. babies don't show stranger anxiety or separation anxiety. Attachment is indiscriminate because it's the same towards all humans. 
  • Specific attachment - (from around 7 months). Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety are shown when separated from one particular adult. Baby is said to have formed a specific attachment with the primary attachment figure. This is in most cases the person who offers the most interaction and responds to the baby's 'signals' with the most skill (the biological mother in 65% of cases). 
  • Multiple attachments - (by 1 year). Secondary attachments with other adults form shortly after. In Schaffer and Emmerson's study, 29% of babies had secondary (multiple) attachments within a month of forming a primary (specific) attachment. By the age of 1 year the majority of infants had multiple secondary attachments. 
  • Key study: Schaffer and Emmerson - Stages of attachment:
  • Procedure - 60 babies from Glasgow, most from working-class families. babies and their mothers were visited at home every month for a year and at 18 months. Separation anxiety…

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