Psychology- Attachment

Strong, close reciprocal emotional bond between two individuals, defined by behaviors such as proximity seeking and separation anxiety.
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Maccoby- Behaviours that Indicate Attachment
Proximity seeking. Separation anxiety. Secure base behaviour.
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How 2 people interact. How a caregiver and child interact with each other by their facial expressions and sounds.
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Interactional Synchrony
Caregiver and child reflect each other's interactions in a coordinated way.
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Modified form of verbal language- high pitched voice.
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Melzoff and Moore
Adult displayed 1 of 3 facial expressions/gestures and child's response was filmed and analysed. Association found between expression/gesture displayed and actions of babies.
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Strengths of Melzoff and Moore, Recioprocity and Interactional Synchrony
+ Controlled observations capture fine detail (recorded and later analysed), plus babies are unaware they are being observed so can't change behaviour - increased validity. + Research shows high levels of synchrony link to better quality attachment.
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Weaknesses of Melzoff and Moore, Recioprocity and Interactional Synchrony
- Don't know from infant's perspective what is going on - uncertain if behaviour is deliberate or has meaning. - Observations don't tell us purpose of synchrony/ reciprocracy.
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Shaffer and Emerson's Stages of Attachment
Assess whether pattern of attachment formation that was common to all infants. Longitudinal study on 60 Glaswegian babies.
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Asocial Stage
0-8 weeks. Recognising/ forming bonds with carers, behaviour towards humans and non-humans is similar, some preferences for familiar adults.
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Indiscriminate Attachment
2-7 months. Show preference for people rather than inanimate objects, prefer familiar adults.
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Specific Attachment
7-12 months. Separation and stranger anxiety. Primary attachment figure- responds well to cues
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Multiple Attachments
1+ year. Form secondary attachments to people they spend time with.
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Strengths of Schaffer's Stages of Attachment
+ High external validity- own homes and parents observed= no Hawthorne effect= can generalise findings to real life. + Longitudinal study- better than cross-sectional due to no confounding variables meaning no individual differences=internal validity
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Weaknesses of Schaffer's Stages of Attachment
- Sampling- same area/ social class and 50 years ago- outdated and unrepresentative and child rearing practices change so can't generalise to different times and cultures. - Asocial stage has little observable behaviour so can't rely.
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Factors Affecting Father-Infant Releationships
Degree of sensitivity, attachment with own parents, marital intimacy, supportive co-parenting.
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Studies Supporting Father Attachment
Field- primary caregiver fathers smile, imitate and hold infants- key to attachment is level of responsiveness, not gender. Frodi- videos of crying infants, no difference in physiological resonses between genders.
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Studies Against Father Attachment
Lamb- little relationship between father accessibility and attachment- could lack emotional sensitivity due to biological or social reasons. Grossman- longitudinal study- quality of infant attachment with mothers (not fathers) related to adolescence
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Weaknesses with Father Attachment Explanations
Inconsistent findings- different research questions don't answer simple role of father question. Children in single/ same-sex families don't develop differently. Socially sensitive research- working mothers.
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Imprinting- close contact kept with first moving object encountered. Half goose eggs hatched with mother, half hatched in incubator with Lorenz. Incubator group followed Lorenz, control group followed mother.
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Lorenz- Critical Period and Sexual Imprinting
Critical period- imprinting only occurs within a set period of time. Sexual Imprinting- birds imprinted on humans often display courtship behaviour towards humans in adult life.
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Strengths of Lorenz' Study
Practical application- farming- orphan lambs wrapped in sheep fleece so attach to a mother who lost her baby lamb.
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Weaknesses of Lorenz' Study
Problem in generalising findings from birds to humans. Recent studies found impact of imprinting on mating behaviour isn't as permanent as Lorenz believed- learn to prefer own species. Ethical issues- psychological/physical harm, right to withdraw...
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Importance of contact comfort. 16 rhesus monkeys. 1. Wire mother (milk), towelling mother (no milk). 2. Wire mother (no milk), towelling mother (milk). 3. Wire mother (milk). 4. Towelling mother (milk). Preferred towelling, regardless of milk.
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Harlow's Conclusions
Innate, unlearned need for contact. Attachment concerns emotional security more than food. Concluded 90 day critical period in which mother must be introduced, otherwise attachment is impossible. Maternal deprivation had permanent effects- aggressive
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Strengths of Harlow's Study
Theoretical value- understand attachment develops as result of contact comfort and effect on later social development. Practical value- helps social workers understand human neglect. Species considered similar enough to be generalised to humans.
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Weaknesses of Harlow's Study
Ethical issues- psychological/physical harm, no informed consent or right to withdraw. But do findings justify effects? Psychologists disagree on extent to which studies can be generalised to humans.
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Explanations of Attachment- Learning Theory
Dollard and Miller. Emphasises importance of caregiver as provider of food. Classical conditioning- food (UCS) and mother (NS) associated until NS becomes CS and mother provides CR of pleasure.
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Operant Conditioning in Learning Theory
Positive reinforcement (crying reinforced as provides pleasurable consequence= food) and negative reinforcement (mother avoids unpleasant consequence= crying). Drive reduction- hunger (primary drive) and attachment (secondary drive).
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Weaknesses of Learning Theory
Counter argument (animal research)- Harlow's contact comfort as most important factor reduces validity and application. Counter argument (human research)- Schaffer and Emerson's stages of attachment- responsiveness= important factor.
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Bowlby's Theory
Evolutionary Theory. Attachment is an innate drive, where babies are pre-programmed to form attachments. Ensures infant stays close to caregiver who will protect and feed.
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Attachments are adaptive, gives species a survival advantage- kept safe from hazards, given food and kept warm.
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Social Releasers
Innate 'cute' characteristics which encourage adult attention which activates attachment system. eg. big eyes, smiling.
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Critical Period
Time in which attachment must form, if it is to form at all. (2 1/2 years old). Withouyt this attachment, the child will likely be psychologically damaged (physically, emotionally, intellectually...)
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One primary attachment figure, different to others and of central importance to child's development. Law of continuity (more constant/ predictable a child's care, better quality attachment).Law of accumulated separation (separation effects add up).
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Internal Working Model
Mental representation of relationships with primary caregiver, which serves as template for future relationships. Continuity hypothesis- link between early attachment relationship and later emotional behaviour.
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Strength of Adaptive Aspect of Bowlby's Theory
Lorenz's research suggest that imprinting is innate/ genetically pre-programmed and is adaptive because it provides us with an evolutionary advantage (staying close to attachment figure keeps us safer). High internal validity.
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Strength of Social Releasers
Brazelton et al- when primary attachment figures were instructed to ignore babies' social releasers, they showed distress and curled up/ lay motionless. Strong response- significance of infant behaviour in eliciting caregiving. Internal validity.
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Strength of Critical Period
Harlow- after critical period, attachment was impossible and effects irreversible. Monkeys were dysfunctional and aggressive. High internal validity.
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Weaknesses of Monotropy
Schaffer and Emerson- some able to form multiple attachments at same time= low ecological validity. Socially sensitive- places burden on mother to care for child and not work= controversial idea= less readily accepted.
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Evaulation of Internal Working Model
+ Bailey et al- mothers who reported poor relationships with parents displayed poor attachments with own children in observation= high ecological validity. - Temperament (personality) may also have an effect= partial explanation= less accepted.
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Ainsworth's Strange Situation
Controlled observation of 12-18 month olds using video camera and 2-way mirror to asses quality of attachment. Operationalised behaviours to judge attachment: proximity seeking; exploration/ secure base; stranger/ separation anxiety; reunion response
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Ainsworth's Strange Situation Stages
1. Child and caregiver in unfamiliar playroom. 2. Child encouraged to explore. 3. Stranger tries to interact w/ child. 4. Caregiver leaves. 5. Caregiver returns and stranger leaves. 6. Caregiver leaves. 7. Stranger returns. 8. Caregiver returns.
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Insecure Avoidant
Type A- explore freely, don't seek proximity, little/ no separation/ stranger anxiety, don't require comfort at reunion.
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Type B- explore, but seek proximity, moderate separation/ stranger anxiety, require and accept comfort at reunion.
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Insecure Resistant
Tpe C- explore less, seek greater proximity, huge separation/ stranger anxiety, resistant to comfort at reunion.
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Strengths of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
High internal validity (good control of extraneous variables). High predictive validity (can predict later development eg. secure= forms god relationships. High inter-observer reliablity- controlled conditions and behavioural categories- objective.
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Weaknesses of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
Low ecological validity- low mundane realism (lab)- can't generalise. Culture bound- cultural diifferences mean respond differently eg. Japan= high separation anxiety. Unethical- no i/c, right to withdraw, psychological harm. Socially sensitive.
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van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg
Used 1990 children in 32 studies across 8 countries in Ainsworth's Strange Situation to meta-analyse proportions of attachment types across and w/i countries. Secure attachment= mots common in all countries. Insecure resistant= least common in all.
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Strengths of van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg
Large sample- increases internal validity by reducing impact of anomalous results caused by bad methodology/ unusual pps.
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Weaknesses of van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg
Unrepresentative sample- only conducted between different countries and not cultures themselves- comparisons between different countries may have little meaning as particular cultural characteristics need to be specified. Method of assessment= biased
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Simonella et al
Used 76 12 month olds in Italy in Ainsworth's strange situation to test if proportions still matched. 50% secure. 36% insecure avoidant. 14% insecure resistant.
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Jin et al
Used 87 children in Korea in Ainsworth's strange situation to test if proportions of attachment types in Korea matched other studies. Most secure. More insecure resistant. Only 1 insecure avoidant.
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Bowlby- Maternal Deprivation
Emotional/intellectual consequences of separation between a child and their mother figure.
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Child not in presence of primary attachment figure for short period of time. Not significant for development.
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Extended separation, occurs when bond has been formed and then broken. Lost an element of care. Causes harm.
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Failure to form an attachment.
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Consequences of Maternal Deprivation- Intellectual Development
Low IQ- Goldfarb- orphaned children who remained in institutions after ww2 had lower IQ scores (average 68) compared to fostered orphans (averaged 98).
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Consequences of Maternal Deprivation- Emotional Development
Affectionless psychopath- inability to feel guilt/ strong emotion for others.
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Bowlby's 44 Thieves Study
44 teenage thieves interviewed. 12/14 affectionless psychopaths had experienced prolonged separation. Non-criminal emotionally disturbed control group had 2 maternally deprived, but no affectionless psychopaths. Link.
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Strengths of Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation
Harlow's study supports- maternally deprived monkeys suffered permanent damage- dysfunctional, aggressive, less sociable, neglected and attacked young. Increases validity.
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Weaknesses of Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation
Critical period or sensitive period- Koluchova's twins isolated but then cared for and fully recovered (damage isn't inevitable). Poor evidence- Goldfarb's orphans traumatized (other factor). Counter-evidence- 44 thieves study replica= unreliable.
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Effects of living in a institutional setting where children live for a long period of time w/ little emotional care.
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Orphan Studies
Concern children place in care because parents can't care for them (died/ abandoned permanently).
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Rutter- ERA (English and Romanian Adoptee)
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Rutter- ERA (English and Romanian Adoptee)
Longitudinal study. 165 Romanian orphans adopted in UK. Physical, cognitive and emotional development assessed at ages 4, 6, 11 and 15. Control= British adoptees. At 11, differential rates of recovery related to adoption age. After 6 months, low IQ.
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Disinhibited Attachment
Equally friendly and
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Disinhibited Attachment
Equally friendly/ affectionate towards people know well and strangers. Attention seeking and clinginess. Rutter explained as adaptation of living w/ multiple caregivers during sensitive period.
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Mental Retardation
Significantly sub-average intellectual functioning/ damage to intellectual development. Can be recovered if adopted before 6 months old.
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Strengths of Rutter's ERA Study
Real-life application- led to improvement of care in institutions to avoid disinhibited attachment. Fewer extraneous variables- kids didn't experience bereavement/neglect- reduced pp confounding variables- increased internal validity.
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Weaknesses of Rutter's ERA Study
Counter evidence- Hodges and Tizard- children adopted after 4 years old had good attachments (didn't suffer low IQ/ disinhibited attachment. Extreme conditions- unusual situational variables= can't be generalised. Long term effects unclear.
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Bucharest Early Intervention Project- Zeanah
96 12-31 month olds in institutional care. Ainsworth's strange situation and interviews. 19% securely attached, compared to 74% in control group. + randomly allocated kids to institutional/ foster care- reduced confounding pp variables - unethical. S
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Hazen and Shaver- Influence of Early Attachment on Romantic Relationships
Analysed 620 replies to a love quiz. 3 sections: current/ most important relationship, love experiences and attachment type. Secure= most likely to have good, long lasting relationships. Insecure avoidant= jealous/ fear of intimacy.
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Myron-Wilson and Smith- Influence of Early Attachment on Childhood Relationships
Questionnaires. Secure children unlikely to be involved in bullying. Insecure Avoidant most likely to be victims of bullying. Insecure Resistant most likely to be bullies.
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Bailey et al- Influence of Early Attachment on Parental Relationships
Strange Situation and interviews. Majority of mothers had same attachment type with babies and own mothers.
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Weaknesses of Influence of Early Attachment on Later Relationships Theory
Counter-evidence for continuity hypothesis- Zimmerman- little relationship between quality of infant and adolescent attachment. Self-report techniques- limited validity- honesty, retrospectve nature. IWM= unconscious. Correlation not cause.
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Maccoby- Behaviours that Indicate Attachment


Proximity seeking. Separation anxiety. Secure base behaviour.

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Interactional Synchrony


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