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Chapter 6. Socio-emotional Development in Infancy. ©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. ©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. Attachment. A strong emotional bond to another person. How Do Emotions and Personality Develop in Infancy?. Theories of Attachment.

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Socio-emotional Development in Infancy

©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.


  • A strong emotional bond to another person

Theories of attachment

How Do Emotions and Personality Develop in Infancy?

Theories of Attachment

  • Trust versus mistrust: Erikson’s first stage of development

    • Infants experience world as either secure and comfortable or insecure and uncomfortable

    • Continuity not guaranteed

Theories of attachment1

How Does Attachment Develop in Infancy?

Theories of Attachment

  • Freud: Infants become attached to person or object giving oral satisfaction

  • Disproved by Harlow’s research: regardless of which mother fed monkeys, both preferred cloth mother contact

What is attachment
What Is Attachment?


Harlow & Zimmerman (1959) discovered that contact comfort, rather than food, is critical to the attachment process.

Erikson(1968) believed that the first year is the key time frame for the development of attachment.

Bowlby(1969) believed that the newborn is biologically equipped to elicit attachment behaviour from theprimary caregiver.

©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.


Fed by cloth mother

Fed by wire mother








Hours per day spent with cloth mother



Mean hours per day















Hours per day spent with wire mother







Age (days)

Harlow’s Results: Contact time with wire and cloth surrogate mothers

Fig. 8.5

Bowlby the development of attachment
Bowlby: The Development of Attachment


Phase 1: Birth to 2 months – infants instinctively direct their attention to human figures.

Phase 2: 2–7 months – attachment becomes focused on one figure, usually a primary caregiver.

Phase 3: 7–24 months – specific attachments develop.

Phase 4: 24 months on – a goal-directed partnership is formed in which children become aware of others’ feelings, goals, & plans.

©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.

Measuring attachment

How Does Attachment Develop in Infancy?

Measuring Attachment

  • Ainsworth’s strange situation: measures infant’s attachment to caregiver

    • Requires infant to move through a series of introductions, separations, and reunions

      • Securely attached

      • Insecure avoidant

  • Insecure resistant

  • Insecure disorganized

The significance of attachment

Some developmentalists believe secure attachment in first year provides important foundation for psychological development

Others believe too much emphasis is placed on attachment bond in infancy

Ignores diversity of socializing agents and contexts

How Does Attachment Develop in Infancy?

The Significance of Attachment

Caregiving styles and attachment classification

How Does Attachment Develop in Infancy? year provides important foundation for psychological development

Caregiving Styles and Attachment Classification

Caregiving style and attachment classification
Caregiving Style and Attachment Classification year provides important foundation for psychological development


Caregivers of securely attached babies are sensitive to their signals & are consistently available to respond to their infants’ needs.

Caregivers of avoidant babies tend to be unavailable or rejecting, tending not to respond to their babies’ signals & having little physical contact with them.

Caregivers of resistant babies sometimes respond to their babies’ needs & sometimes do not.

Caregivers of disorganized babies often neglect or physically abuse their babies, & sometimes these caregivers suffer from depression.

©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.

Attachment temperament and wider social world
Attachment, Temperament, and Wider Social World year provides important foundation for psychological development


Researchers recognize the importance of competent, nurturant caregivers in an infant’s development, but it is debated whether or not secure attachment is critical.

Not all research reveals the power of infant attachment to predict subsequent development.

Some researchers stress that genetic & temperament characteristics play more important roles in a child’s social competence.

Cultural variations in attachment have been found.

©2008 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.

Avoidant year provides important foundation for psychological development







Percentage of infants








Cross-Cultural Comparison of Attachment:

Ainsworth’s strange situation applied to infants in three countries in 1988

Fig. 8.6