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Attachment

What is attachment? How does it relate to developmental psychology? What are the different types of attachment? These are just some of the questions to which we seek answers in this topic.

Developmental psychology is a branch of psychology that studies a person's growth and changes during their lifetime. The study examines behaviours, feelings and thought processes intending to understand how and why they develop over time.

Developmental influences that affect our behaviour and thinking can include:

  • Biological, such as genetic dispositions.

  • Cognitive, such as intelligence.

  • Sociocultural or environmental, such as through parenting styles and cultural factors.

What is attachment?

Much of our development occurs during the early stages of our lives; due to this, the focus of developmental psychology is often on childhood and adolescence. An important aspect of such life stages is studying attachment behaviour.

We will specifically be studying attachment within developmental psychology.

Attachment Children developmental stages StudySmarterDevelopmental psychology studies include studying children's developmental stages, Shikha Shah - StudySmarter Originals

Attachment is the name given to an emotional bond or ties felt towards another person. The bond provides feelings of security and closeness. In infant-parent relationships, attachment is a two-way emotional bond in which both people are contributors. Through reciprocal interactions, the attachment between an infant and its parent is strengthened.

Attachment can also be studied through an individual's reaction to separation from someone with whom they are attached.

Psychologist John Bowlby (1969) defined attachment as a:

Lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.

What is the focus of the attachment study?

The focus of the attachment study, as mentioned above, will be on early childhood and adolescence. In the chapter of attachment, you will find the following subtopics.

Caregiver-infant interaction

This subtopic is about caregiver-infant attachment. We will study attachment figures and the role of the father. We will also study the stages of attachment as found by Schaffer and Emerson (1964) and reciprocity and interactional synchrony as studied by Condon & Sander (1974).

Animal studies of attachment: Lorenz (1935) and Harlow (1958)

This subtopic is about the animal studies of attachment and Lorenz' and Harlow's research. We will start by discussing the role of animal studies in psychology and how they help us understand attachment. We will move on to consider both studies individually and evaluate them.

Explanations of attachment

This subtopic is about explanations of attachment. We will study several explanations of attachment, including the Learning Theory, Bowlby's Monotropic Theory (1969) and the types of attachment found in Ainsworth's ‘Strange Situation’ procedure.

Cultural variations in attachment

This subtopic is about the cultural variations in attachment. We will start by defining cultural variations and explain how they work with regard to attachment. We will illustrate this by considering Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg's 1988 study in more detail. We will look at the findings of the study and its implications. Lastly, we will evaluate the study.

Deprivation, privation and separation

This subtopic is about deprivation, privation and separation. We will study Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation to learn about the effects of deprivation on attachment

.

Institutionalisation and deprivation: Romanian orphan studies

This topic is about the effects of institutionalization and deprivation on attachment. We will look at the Romanian orphan studies in detail to understand more about the effects.

Attachment and later relationships

This subtopic is about attachment and later relationships in a person's life. We will be studying the ‘romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process’ research by Hazan & Shaver (1987).


Attachment - Key takeaways

  • Developmental psychology is the study of how people grow and change over time. It is a branch of psychology seeking to understand how and why we develop the way we do. Much of our development happens in early childhood and adolescence.
  • Attachment is an emotional bond or ties felt towards another person. It also exists mutually, such as between an infant and its parent.

  • Attachment is studied as part of developmental psychology. This topic will cover several different aspects of attachment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Attachment

Secure attachment is a style of attachment described by Mary Ainsworth, in 1978, through the Strange Situation procedure. A secure attachment is when a child has a carer who is emotionally available, sensitive and supportive; this means that the child has a positive working model of itself.

Ambivalent attachment is a style of attachment described by Mary Ainsworth, in 1978, through the Strange Situation procedure. It is a form of insecure-resistant attachment and can be formed when the child does not have a consistent response from its carer. This can result in the child having anxiety about having its needs met and having a negative working model of itself.

The different types of attachment characterised by Mary Ainsworth in 1978 are secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant.

Attachment is the name given to an emotional bond or tie felt towards another person. The bond or tie provides feelings of security and closeness. In infant-parent relationships, attachment is a two-way emotional bond in which both people are contributors. Through reciprocal interactions, the attachment between an infant and its parent is strengthened.

Final Attachment Quiz

Question

When was the maternal deprivation theory proposed?

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In 1953.

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Who proposed the maternal deprivation theory?

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John Bowlby.

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What is deprivation?

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Deprivation refers to when a child loses their primary caregiver, which disrupts their attachment to them.

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What is separation?

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When mother and child are separated for a short period.

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What is privation?


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When a child never has the opportunity to form an attachment with their mother.

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 What is an example of deprivation?


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An example of long term deprivation could be when a child is placed into foster care during the critical period, permanently disrupting their attachment to their mother.

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What is an example of privation?

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An example of privation could be a child placed into the care system almost immediately after birth. As a result, they did not have enough time to attach to their mother and, due to the nature of foster homes, are unable to attach to any of the rotating staff members.

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What is an example of separation?

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An example of separation could be if the mother goes on a weekend away and leaves their baby with her grandparents.

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What is affectionless psychopathy?

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It is the inability to experience guilt or empathy for others. Affectionless psychopathy prevents the person from developing normal relationships and is associated with criminality.

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What are the three levels of distress in the PDD Model?

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Protest, Despair, Detachment.

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What was found in the 1947 study by Goldfarb?


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Children who had spent over three years in foster care had a lower IQ, and showed more social immaturity and aggression than children who had spent less than three years in the system.

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Why is the 44 thieves study subject to experimenter bias?

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Since Bowlby himself was conducting the interviews and likely had a vested interest in proving his theory correct, this bias affects the validity of the study.

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What was measured in the 44 thieves study?

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IQ, emotional attitudes to testing, affectionless psychopathy.

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What was found in the 44 thieves study?

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Bowlby found that 14 of the 44 thieves could be affectionless psychopaths. He concluded that prolonged early separation/deprivation caused affectionless psychopathy.

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Does the case study by Kolochova support or refute Bowlby’s idea that maternal deprivation causes affectionless psychopathy?


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Support.


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Which type of attachment did Bowlby claim all infants were pre-programmed to develop? With whom?

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The type of attachment is secure attachment with a primary caregiver.

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What is the main benefit of a “cross-cultural” study?


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The main benefit is that researchers can see if certain behaviours are universal or learned through cultures.

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What are the three attachment styles found by Mary Ainsworth?


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The three attachment styles are secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant.

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What was the most common attachment style found in the meta-analysis?


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The most common attachment style found was the secure attachment type.

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Did the findings of the meta-analysis disprove Bowlby's theory?


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The findings of the meta-analysis showed that attachment styles can vary according to culture; this does not mean each infant is pre-programmed to form the same attachment style as suggested by Bowlby.

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Is it an advantage or disadvantage that the same Strange Situation procedure was used to test attachment styles in all cultures that were studied?


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It is an advantage because the results could be replicated using a reliable method. However, it is an ethnocentric method.

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Apart from intercultural variations, what else did Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg discover in the meta-analysis?


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Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg found that there were more variations within each culture itself (intracultural) than between different cultures (intercultural).

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What is developmental psychology?

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Developmental psychology is the study of a person's emotional and behavioural growth and changes over their lifetime.

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What is attachment?

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Answer

Attachment is the name given to an emotional bond or tie felt towards another person. The bond or tie provides feelings of security and closeness. In infant-parent relationships, attachment is a tw0-way emotional bond in which both people are contributors.

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Why is it important to study attachment in developmental psychology?

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Answer

It is important to study attachment in developmental psychology because attachment behaviour helps us understand how and why people grow and change over time. 

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What is the name of a key psychologist in attachment theory?

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A key psychologist in attachment theory is John Bowlby.

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Why is attachment behaviour studied during the early stages of life?

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Answer

Attachment behaviour is studied during the early stages of life because much of our development occurs during childhood and adolescence. Studying attachment behaviour during these stages can help psychologists understand how we develop.

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How can a bond between an infant and a parent be strengthened?

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An infant and parent bond can be strengthened through reciprocal interactions.

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What is one advantage of studying animals in psychology?

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Possible answers: some animals have short gestation periods, some have similar brain structure to humans, less ethical concerns, the likelihood of generalisability.

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What is the name of the practice of studying animals in psychology?


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The practice of studying animals in psychology is called comparative psychology.

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What was Lorenz's leading theory in his study?


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Lorenz's study suggests that young animals have a natural and biological tendency to attach themselves to a single subject.


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Did Lorenz suggest that the effects of imprinting were short-term?


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No. Lorenz suggested that once the animal imprints in infancy, this process is irreversible and has long-term effects on behaviour.

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According to Harlow's study, what is more important for the development of rhesus monkeys?


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Contact comfort is more important to the monkeys as they develop emotional attachments to the surrogate mother.

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What are the critical periods of attachment for both goslings and rhesus monkeys?


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The critical period of attachment for goslings is 12-17 hours after hatching and for rhesus monkeys within 90 days after birth.

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Name one disadvantage of both Lorenz' and Harlow's studies.


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Lorenz' and Harlow's studies lack generalisability due to the differences between animals and humans and are unethical due to the long-term effects on the animals.

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What are caregiver-infant interactions?

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Caregiver-infant interactions are interactions between babies or infants and their parents or guardians (the caregivers). The baby leads the interactions, and the caregiver responds.

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Give three examples of non-verbal communication within caregiver-infant interactions.


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Any three examples from the following list are acceptable: eye contact, smiling, facial expressions, sounds, and physical touch.

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What is attachment?


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Attachment is an emotional bond with another person that provides feelings of safety and closeness. Attachment is a reciprocal emotional bond in the relationship between caregiver and infant. Reciprocal interactions strengthen the bond.

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What is reciprocity?


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When the caregiver or infant initiates an interaction, responses follow the interaction. We refer to this as reciprocity. When the infant and caregiver elicit responses from each other, it is a sign of reciprocity.

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What is interactional synchrony? 


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Interactional synchrony means that one person mirrors another person's interactions, such as facial expressions and body language. Caregiver-infant interaction is about the reciprocity of behaviour – it is a 'conversation' using behaviours and emotions.

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What were Condon and Sander's (1974) conclusions?


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Condon and Sander concluded that babies pay attention to sounds early on and converse with seemingly random movements and gestures.

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What was the conclusion of Field's (1978) study?


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Field (1978) concluded that parental behaviour, not gender, is more important in establishing attachment with the infant. Fathers may exhibit caring behaviours normally associated with mothers.

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According to Bowlby, how are fathers more likely to interact with their children?

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Answer

Through play.


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What did Grossman's (2002) study observe in parents, and how was it measured?


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The Grossman (2002) study observed play sensitivity in parents. Play sensitivity was measured using the Sensitive and Challenging Interactive Play Scale (SCIP).

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What were the findings and conclusions of the MacCullum and Golombok (2004) study?


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The results of MacCullum and Golombok's (2004) study stated that children who grew up in either a single-parent family or a same-sex family showed no differences in development compared to children who grew up in a heterosexual two-parent family. This suggests that the father's role in child development may not be as important or pronounced.

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Rank the four stages of attachment found by Schaffer and Emerson (1964) according to the age of the infant.

  1. Specific attachment

  2. Asocial 

  3. Multiple attachments

  4. Indiscriminate attachment

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Answer

The order is B, D, A, and C. The four stages of attachment found by Schaffer and Emerson are: asocial (0-6 weeks), indiscriminate attachment (6 weeks - 7 months), specific attachment (7-9 months), and multiple attachments (10 months+).

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Schaffer and Emerson (1974) found that no primary attachment figure exists for infants at 18 months. Is this true or false?


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This is false. At 18 months, the mother is still the primary attachment figure for infants.

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What is sensitive responsiveness?


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Sensitive responsiveness means responding accurately to an infant or child's responses, such as communicating or playing with the child and responding to their demands. Demands may include crying for attention or asking for something, such as a toy. Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found that infants are more likely to have a stronger attachment to those who show sensitive responsiveness than those who spend more time with the infant.

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An infant is sitting on the floor, playing with his toy. It sees the caregiver walk by and begins to cry and raises its arms. The caregiver puts down what they were holding and takes the child in their arms to reassure it. The baby stops crying and is content. What does this example represent?


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Answer

The example represents sensitive responsiveness. The caregiver responded accurately (they picked up the infant) to the infant's needs (the infant was crying and wanted the caregiver to hold it).

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What are some difficulties in researching caregiver infant interactions?


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Difficulties include the lack of reliability of testing infants, observer bias, and individual factors such as differences in attachment style.

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