46 terms

Attachment

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Definition of attachment
An emotional bond between two people. It is a two-way process that endures over time. It leads to certain behaviours such as clinging and proximity-seeking and serves the function of protecting an infant.
Classical conditioning
> Attachment formed through association.
> Food produces pleasure.
> Person who feeds infant eventually produces same pleasure response because of their association with food.
Operant conditioning
> A hungry infant will feel uncomfortable which will create a drive to reduce this discomfort
> When an infant is fed this drive is reduced and they get a feeling of pleasure (rewarding)
> Food = primary reinforcer because it reinforces the behaviour to avoid the discomfort
> The person supplying the food is associated with the avoiding the discomfort = secondary reinforcer
> Attachment occurs because the child seeks the person who can supply the reward
> Dollard and Miller suggested that a hungry infant feels uncomfortable and can be comforted by food, and so the person who gives them the food is the person who comforts them.
Primary attachment figure
The person who has formed the closest bond with a child, demonstrated by the intensity of the relationship. This is usually a child's biological mother, but other people can fulfill the role.
Learning theory
The name given to a group of explanations (classical and operant conditioning) which explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than any inborn tendencies or higher order thinking.
Explanation of learning theory
All behaviour is learned rather than inborn.
Children are blank slates at birth - everything they become is learned through their experiences.
Learning theory is put forward by behaviourists.
Behaviourists suggest that all behaviour is learned either through classical or operant conditioning.
Strengths of learning theory
> Provides adequate explanation of how attachments form.
> We do learn through association and reinforcement.
Limitations of learning theory
> Food may not be the main reinforcer
> Strong psychological evidence to show that feeding has nothing to do with attachment - Harlow's monkeys.
> Harlow created 2 wire mothers (one with a feeding bottle and one wrapped in soft cloth). According to learning theory the monkeys should have attached to the mother with the feeding bottle, but the monkeys actually spent most time with the cloth-covered mother and would cling to it, especially when they were frightened.
> Shaffer and Emerson found that babies were most attached to the person who was most responsive, rather than one with the food. (Study where 60 babies were studied for a year in working class homes in Glasgow)
Validity of Learning Theory
> Largely based on non-human animals - human behaviour may be similar in some ways but also is different because human behaviour is more influenced by higher order thinking and emotions.
> Behaviourist explanations may lack validity because they present an oversimplified version of human behaviour.
> Behaviourists believe that we are actually no different from other animals and therefore it is legitimate to generalize from animal experiments to human behaviour.
Innate
Refers to characteristics that are inborn, a product of genetic factors. Such traits may be apparent at birth or may appear later as a result of maturation (e.g. when a boy develops a beard).
Continuity hypothesis
The idea that emotionally secure infants go on to be emotionally secure, trusting and socially confident adults.
Imprinting
An innate readiness to develop a strong bond with a mother figure, which takes place during a critical or sensitive period.
Internal working model
A mental model of the world that enables individuals to predict and control their environment
Monotropy
The idea that one relationship that the infant has with his/her primary attachment figure is of special significance in emotional development
Sensitive period
A biologically determined period of time during which the child is particularly sensitive to a specific form of stimulation, resulting in the development of a specific response or characteristic.
Social releasers
A social behaviour or characteristic that elicits a caregiving reaction. Bowlby suggested that these were innate and adaptive and critical in the process of forming attachments
Temperament hypothesis
The belief that children form secure attachments simply because they have a more 'easy' temperament from birth, whereas innately difficult children are more likely to form insecure attachments and later relationships.
Explanation of Bowlby's Theory
> An evolutionary theory ->he believes that attachment is a behavioral system that has evolved because of its survival and reproductive value.
> Attachment is adaptive: forming an attachment with an adult makes it more likely that an infant will survive e.g. safe from harm.
> Innate characteristics: since attachment is adaptive it is therefore governed by the genes we inherit - the tendency to become more attached is innate. Infants are born with certain characteristics that ensure they receive care from others. E.g. when a child is 'cute' = social releasers.
> Sensitive period: innate behaviours usually have a special time period when they develop. This is called a critical or sensitive period -> Bowlby suggested this critical period to be around 6-9 months.
Monotropy and internal working model
> Infants have one special emotional bond with their primary attachment figure.
> Infants may have secondary attachments that are important for healthy emotional and social development. > The relationship between primary attachment figure and infant creates expectations about what all relationships will be like, leading to an internal working model of relationships.
The continuity hypothesis
> Individuals who are securely attached in infancy continue to be securely attached in later childhood and adulthood.
> This means they are likely to be socially and emotionally more competent, and form secure attachments with adult partners.
> Insecurely attached children have more social and emotional problems in childhood and also in adulthood.
Caregiver sensitivity
> Bowlby argued that the key feature of the primary attachment relationship was the responsiveness and sensitivity of the caregiver. And that it is the quality of the infant-adult relationship that matters, rather than the time spent together.
> According to Bowlby, a parent who deals with their infant by being accepting, cooperative and accessible is more likely to form a secure attachment.
Strengths of Bowlby's Theory
> Imprinting in non-human animals: Lorenz found that goslings had an innate tendency to follow and stay close to the first moving object they saw (either their natural mother or him). This is called imprinting. The fact that the goslings became 'attached' to Lorenz demonstrates an innate process that has survival value. This suggests that a similar innate process evolved in humans to promote survival.
> Universality: Tronick et al. studied Africans with different cultural practices to out own (e.g. infants breastfed by several women). Nevertheless, infants formed a primary attachment to one person. If a behaviour is innate then we would expect people from different cultures to display the same kind of behaviour, i.e. we would expect attachment to be universal. This shows that attachment is innate rather than being culturally determined.
Strengths of Bowlby's Theory continued...
> Sensitive period: Hodges and Tizard found that children who had formed no attachments had later difficulties with peers.
> Monotropy and hierarchy: Study by Schaffer and Emerson found that most infants had many attachments - to mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings etc. - but still maintained one primary object of attachment.
Limitations of Bowlby's Theory
> There are problems with the concept of monotropy: Rutter argued that all attachment figures are equally important to the child. For healthy emotional development is may actually be preferable to have a number of primary attachments. This suggests that the internal working model is based on several relationships rather than one special one.
> There is an alternative view for the continuity hypothesis (Kagan) - the temperament hypothesis: It could be that an infant's temperament is as important as caregiver sensitivity in determining the quality of attachment. This is supported by research that found that infants who are irritable from birth are more likely to develop insecure attachments (Belsky and Rovine). This suggest that attachment is not just explained by parent behaviour.
Secure attachment
strong and contented attachment of an infant to his or her caregiver, which develops as a result of sensitive responding by the caregiver to the infant's needs.
Insecure attachment
form of attachment between infant and caregiver that develops as a result of the caregiver's lack of sensitive responding to the infant's needs. May be associated with poor subsequent cognitive and emotional development.
Insecure-avoidant
Style of attachment characterizes those children who tend to avoid social interaction and intimacy with others.
Insecure-resistant
Attachment characterizes those who both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction.
Disorganised
An attachment type that is characterized by a lack of such consistent patterns of social behaviour.
Separation anxiety
The distress shown by an infant when separated from his/her primary attachment figure.
Stranger anxiety
The distress shown by an infant when approached or picked up by someone who is unfamiliar.
Strange Situation Method
1. Parent and infant play
2. Parent sits while infant plays
3. Stranger enters and talks to parent
4. Parent leaves, infant plays, stranger offers comfort if necessary
5. Parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort if needed, stranger leaves
6. Parent leaves, infant is alone
7. Stranger enters and offers comfort
8. Parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort
Findings of the Strange Situation
> Found similarities and differences in the ways that infants behaved.
> Exploratory behaviours declined in all infants from episode 2 onwards.
> The amount of infants crying increased from episode 2 onwards.
> Proximity-seeking and contact-maintaining behaviours intensified during separation and when the stranger appeared.
> Contact-resisting and proximity-avoiding behaviours occurred rarely towards the caregiver prior to separation.
Strengths of the SS
Most research on attachment requires a means of assessing the quality of the attachment bond between an infant and parent. The SS was developed by Ainsworth in order to do this. The method was tested extensively by Ainsworth. Without the SS technique it would not be possible to investigate the causes and effects of attachment. This shows that it is an essential tool for conducting research on attachment.
Limitations of the SS
> One criticism of the SS is it may not be a valid measurement of attachment: SS only measures attachment in the context of one particular relationship -> assesses the quality of that relationship rather than telling us about the 'attachment type' of the individual. However, research has found that attachment type is mainly influenced by the mother (Main & Weston). This means it may well be justified to measure the attachment type of an individual infant by just testing their relationship with that one person (the mother) in the SS.
> Another criticism is it may not apply to every culture: the SS was developed in the US and is based on certain assumptions. In some other cultures, such as Japan, dependence rather than independence is valued. Therefore, well-attached children show much greater signs of distress on separation - but in the SS this would be seen as a sign of poor attachment. This means that different measures of attachment are needed in different cultures.
Secure attachment type
> Harmonious and cooperative interactions with their caregiver
> Not likely to cry if the caregiver leaves the room
> When feeling anxious they seek close bodily contact with their caregiver and are easily soothed, though they may be reluctant to leave their caregiver prematurely
> They seek and are comfortable with social interaction and intimacy
> Uses the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore and thus is able to function independently.
Insecure-avoidant attachment type
> Anxious style
> Tend to avoid social interaction and intimacy with others
> In the Strange Situation, such children show little response to separation and do not seek the proximity of their caregiver on reunion
> If infant is picked up he/she shows little or no tendency to cling or resist being put down.
> Happy to explore with or without the presence of their caregiver
> High levels of anxiousness and avoidant behaviour
Become angry when their attachment needs are not met
Insecure-resistant attachment type
> Ambivalent style
> Both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction
> Respond to separation from their caregiver with immediate and intense distress.
> On reunion, such children display conflicting desires for and against contact, they may angrily resist being picked up while also trying other means to maintain proximity.
Evaluation of the SS category types
> Attachment behaviours may not be consistent: Main and Solomon re-analysed over 200 video recordings of SS studies and proposed a fourth attachment type - disorganized attachment. This means that Ainsworth's idea of consistent behaviour patterns may be mistaken.
> It might be inaccurate to suggest that children have just one attachment type: Ainsworth suggested attachment type was consistent within one situation and also consistent across time but children may display a different attachment type in different situations and with different people
> There are real world applications of the concept of type of attachment: When infants are classed as insecurely attached, intervention strategies may be used to improve the parent-infant bond
Disorganised attachment type
> Developed by Main and Solomon.
> Lack of consistent patterns of social behaviour.
> Lack a coherent strategy for dealing with the stress of separation.
> Show very strong attachment behaviour which is suddenly followed by avoidance or looking fearful towards their caregiver or displaying odd movements such as stumbling, but only when the caregiver is present.
Effects of Attachment Types
> Behaviour in later childhood: Prior and Glaser (2006) provide the following summary:
- Secure attachment is associated with positive outcomes such as less emotional dependence and higher achievement orientation and interpersonal harmony.
- Avoidant attachment is related to later aggressiveness, and generally negative affect.
- Resistant attachment is associated with greater anxiety and withdrawn behaviour.
- Disorganised attachment is linked to hostile and aggressive behaviour.
> Adult romantic behaviour: Bowlby believed that the reason for this link was because the mother's behaviour creates an internal working model of relationships that leads the infant to expect the same in later relationships.
Cultural variations (definition)
The ways that different groups of people vary in terms of their social practices, and the effects these practices have on development and behaviour.
Collectivist culture
Any culture that places more value on the 'collective' rather than the individual, and on interdependence rather than independence. The opposite is true for individualist culture.
van IJzendoorn and Kroonenberg study on cultural variations
> How?: A meta-analysis of 32 studies conducted in 8 different countries. The studies selected all used the SS to assess attachment type between infants and mothers. Researchers excluded any study that looked at special groups of participants, such as Down's syndrome or twins, and excluded those involving fewer than 35 infants.
> Showed: that secure attachment was the most common classification in every country.
> Showed: Insecure-avoidant was the next most common, except in Israel and Japan which both had particularly high rates of insecure-resistant attachment.
> Showed: The variation within countries was 1.5 times greater than between countries.
Evaluation of van IJzendoorn and Kroonenberg study on cultural variations
> One criticism of this research is that the SS may not be a valid measure of attachment in all cultures: The SS was developed in the US and is based on certain assumptions such as that a well-attached child should only be mildly distressed when separated from their parent
> The meta-analysis looked at 'countries' which is not the same as 'cultures': Within any country there are a number of cultures, which means it may be meaningless to compare attachment rates in different countries. van IJzendoorn and Sagi found an over-representation of insecure-resistant infants in a rural Japanese sample whereas rates in urban Tokyo were more like the US rates. This means that it really only makes sense to compare cultural groups rather than pooling data within different countries
> Not all studies have found that there are cultural differences: For example, Tronick et al. studied people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who had different cultural practices to Western ones but nevertheless the infants formed a primary attachment to one person.
Grossmann et al. study on cultural variations
> How?: Two samples of mothers and their infants were studied: one from northern and one from southern Germany. Attachment type was assessed in infancy using the SS. The children were assessed again at age 11.
> Showed: in southern Germany the distribution of attachment types was similar to Ainsworth's US sample (2/3rds secure attachment).
> Showed: in northern Germany 2/3rds were insecurely attached, the rest were securely attached.
> Showed: High levels of insecure attachment were attributed to an emphasis on self-reliance and emotional independence by parents in northern Germany.
> Showed: the same infants at age 11 had poorer peer relationships and showed greater dependence than the southern sample.
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