The formation of attachments: Schaffer and Emerson

  • Created by: izzy
  • Created on: 10-06-13 13:26

Schaffer and Emerson (1964)

This study looked at the gradual development of attachments. Schaffer and Emerson studied 60 babies in Glasgow, visiting them monthly for the first year of their lives and returning again at 18 months. They collected data on attachment by considering two types of behaviour:

  • Separation anxiety: if the baby showed anxiety or distress when the caregiver left them. Separation anxiety indicates that the baby has formed an attachment to the person.
  • Stranger distress: if the baby showed signs of distress when approached by someone who they did not know. Distress at strangers shows that the baby can recognise familiar people and feels anxious with those who are familiar.

Schaffer and Emerson used a variety of methods to collect their fate including observation and interviewing. During each visit, they would approach the baby and see if they cried, whimpered or showed signs of distress at a strange face. At each visit, they interviewed the mothers, asking them about the baby's response to various situations, for example, when the baby was left outside a shop, with a babysitter or when put in their cot at night. The mothers were asked to rate the baby's behaviour in each of theses situations using a four-point scale from zero 'no protest shown' to three 'cries loudly every time'.

When does attachment take place?

Schaffer and Emerson found that…


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