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Attachments Revision. The Essential Guide!!. Name FOUR things about. Attachment. Attachment – What is it?. 1. An affectional tie between two people or animals 2. A two-way process that endures over time

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Attachments revision l.jpg

Attachments Revision

The Essential Guide!!

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Name FOUR things about


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Attachment – What is it?

  • 1. An affectional tie between two people or animals

  • 2. A two-way process that endures over time

  • 3. Leads to certain behaviours such as: Clinging – Proximity seeking – Crying - Smiling

  • 4.Serves the function of protecting the infant or young animal

    (Mary Ainsworth 1970)

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What do we mean by theseBehaviours?

  • And how are they essential to the development of a healthy creature?

  • They are all features of a Secure Attachment

  • Proximity Seeking

  • Secure Base Behaviour

  • Separation Anxiety

  • Stranger Anxiety

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Key Terms

  • Proximity Seeking – Staying close to the attachment figure

  • Secure Base Behaviour – Regularly returning to an attachment figure when exploring

  • Separation Anxiety – Anxiety at being apart from an attachment figure

  • Stranger Anxiety – Anxiety in the presence of strangers

  • They are all essential for survival!

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Why are Psychologists so

interested in Attachment?

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Why are Psychologists so interested in Attachment?

  • Because ALL psychologist believe that the attachment we form with our primary carer (usually our mother) forms a TEMPLATE for all future relationships - with friends, with teachers, and, in the future, with husbands and wives and in turn, OUR FUTURE CHILDREN. If our attachment with our mother is not good, psychologists believe our whole life could be put at a disadvantage.

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Explanations of Attachments N0. 1


  • All behaviour is learnt rather than inborn

  • Children are born blank slates and everything they become is dependent on what they experience

  • Learning theory is put forward by BEHAVIOURIST psychologists who say that all behaviour, including attachment is learnt by:

  • Classical and Operant Conditioning.

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Classical Conditioning – Learning by AssociationOperant Conditioning – learning by Reward (Reinforcement) and Punishment

  • Classical Conditioning – food produces pleasure. “Feeder” (mother) becomes associated with food/pleasure so baby becomes attached to her.

  • Operant Conditioning – food is the primary reinforcer, “feeder” becomes the secondary reinforcer – both food and mother reduce discomfort, and therefore reward the infant and so the baby becomes attached to the mother.

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Evaluating the Learning Theory(Sometimes called the “Cupboard Love” Theory!)

  • Strengths 

  • Learning theory suggests that the attachment develops between infant and carer because the carer provides food. And it’s true – we do learn through association and reinforcement.

  • Weaknesses 

  •  We do learn through association and reinforcement but it may not be the food that is the reinforcer, it may be the responsiveness and attention of other carer.

  •  If the learning theory is true:

  • How come babies often develop strong attachments to people who don’t feed them?

  • The Harlow Monkey Experiment.

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Name, date and describe Two research studies which cast doubt on the

Learning Theory

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The Harlow Monkey Experiment

  • Harry Harlow, 1959 conducted research in to learning using young rhesus monkeys, kept alone.

  • He created two “mothers”, one with made of wire but a full feeding bottle of milk, and the other wrapped in a soft cloth but without food.

  • According to the learning theory the young monkeys should have become attached to the wire mother.

  • In fact the monkeys spent most of their time with the cloth-covered mother and would cling to it, especially when frightened.(a proximity-seeking behaviour, characteristic of attachment)

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Schaffer and Emerson 1964

  • Whilst the Harlow Monkey experiment used animals, the above study used human infants.

  • 60 babies (from mainly working-class Glasgow homes) were observed for a year.

  • Schaffer & Emerson found that infants were not most attached to the person who fed them but became attached to the person who was most responsive to them and who interacted most with them.

  • This reinforces the Harlow Monkey experiment and suggests that “cupboard love” is not likely to be the best explanation for attachment, although association and reinforcement may be part of the story.

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The Evolutionary

Perspective - Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment

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Explain Bowlby’s theory of Attachment using the following terms

  • Survival Value Reproductive Value

  • Innate Drive Imprinting

  • Pre-programmed Social Releasers

  • Adaptive Sensitive Period

  • Monotropy Template

  • Internal Working Model

  • Continuity Hypothesis Responsive Mother

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Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment terms

  • Bowlby’s theory is an Evolutionary theory

  • In his view attachment is a behaviour that has evolved because of its survival value and, ultimately, its reproductive value.

  • According to Bowlby, children have an innate drive to become attached to a caregiver because attachment has long-term benefits. He proposed that normal psychological development requires the development of a secure attachment between a baby and its main carer.

  • He also proposed the concept of imprinting – an innate readiness to develop a strong bond with a mother figure.

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Pre-programming!! terms

  • John Bowlby said that babies are pre-programmed to behave in ways that encourage adult attention

  • He called these behaviours social releasers

  • These include “cute” behaviours such as smiling and cooing and are the child’s contribution towards an attachment. The mother’s contribution is that she must respond and react to these behaviours

  • He suggests these instinctive behaviours enhance survival and and are protective for the infant. He called these behaviours ADAPTIVE.

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Sensitive Period terms

  • Bowlby said there is sensitive period from when the baby is born to around the age of 2, when the baby is programmed to form a special attachment. He called this monotropy. If something happens to damage or break this attachment, the child may develop and insecure attachment its development may well be damaged.

  • For a secure attachment to take place, the child’s main carer (usually the mother) needs to be attentive, SENSITIVE and responsive to thechild’s needs, during this sensitive period.

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More about Bowlby’s theory terms

  • Bowlby said the child develops a model or template from the attachment with its mother which influences all future relationships and future parenting style. It is a prototype of all future relationships. He called this the internal working model.

  • The internal working model indicates a big link between early emotional experiences and later relationships. He called this the continuity hypothesis – the idea that early experiences continue to influence throughout life.

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Give some terms Strengths of

Bowlby’s theory of Attachment

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Evaluating Bowlby’s theory of Attachment - Strengths terms

  • It is considered the dominant explanation of how and why attachment develops.

  •  Imprinting is supported by Lorenz’s ducks

  •  Bowlby suggests that attachment evolved to as an aid to survival. If this is true then attachment and caregiving behaviours should be universal, in all cultures, despite differences in child-rearing practices. There is evidence to supportthis. (Tronick et al 1992)

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Give Some Research Evidence terms

Supporting Bowlby’s Theory

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Research Evidence for Bowlby’s Theory terms

  •  Schaffer and Emerson, 1964, observed that strongly attached infants had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and who offered the child the most interaction whereas weakly attached infants had mothers who failed to interact with them.

  •  The Minnesota longitudinal study (Sroufe et al 2005) followed children from infancy to adolescence and found continuity between their early attachment styles and their later emotional and social behaviour. This supports the continuity hypothesis.

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And the Harlow Monkey Experiment terms

  •  Supports Bowlby’s theory that a responsive mother is needed for good, lifelong psychological health. The monkeys were not only psychologically damaged, but proved incapable of becoming effective and loving parents, themselves.

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Give some Weaknesses terms of

Bowlby’s Theory

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More Evaluation of Bowlby’s theory termsWeaknesses

  •  The idea that attachment behaviours have evolved to promote child development has good face validity. But evolutionary ideas are very difficult to test and so difficult to prove or disprove.

  •  Bowlby’s theory focuses on the role of the mother. There is evidence that in two-parent families, the quality of attachment of the father can also have a big effect on the child’s development. (Grossmann and Grossmann, 1991)

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An Alternative Explanation terms

  • A key feature of Bowlby’s theory is the continuity hypothesis – the idea that there are continuities between early attachment and later social/emotional development. However Kagan, 1984 put forward

  • The Temperament Hypothesis, in which he proposed that we are all born with our distinct, innate temperament, and it is this that is the big factor in determining our attachment style and our subsequent emotional and social development. In other words, to some extent, our development is pre-determined by our genetic makeup. And there is evidence to support this------

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Belsky and Rovine 1987 terms

  • Assessed babies aged one to three days old and found a link between certain psychological behaviours and later attachment types. They found that infants who were calmer and less anxious were more likely to be securely attached.

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Name and date the procedure termswhich aimed to test the nature

of attachment systematically.

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The Strange Situation – Which is termsAinsworth and Wittig 1969

  • Laboratory Procedure using

  • Observation Techniques

  • Designed to measure the security of attachment a child displays towards its main care giver

  • What is being assessed?

  • Secure base behaviour, proximity seeking, separation anxiety, stranger anxiety, response on being reunited with care giver.

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What is the Procedure of the terms

Strange Situation

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The Strange Situation –it gets its name from the fact that the baby is placed in an unfamiliar – that is, a strange room

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What were the findings of the the baby is placed in an unfamiliar – that is, a strange room

Strange Situation

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How did Mary Ainsworth account for the (Ainsworth et al 1978)

Variations in attachment types?

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Explaining Attachment Types (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • Mary Ainsworth believed variation in attachment types is a result of the main carer’s behaviour towards the child.Maternal SensitivityHypothesis

  • High levels of maternal sensitive responsiveness = Secure attachment

  • Mothers who “pick up” signals and respond = Secure attachment

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What is Secure Attachment? (Ainsworth et al 1978)

What did Ainsworth believe caused it?

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Secure Attachment (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • This is a strong and contented attachment of an infant to its caregiver, which develops as a result of sensitive responding by the caregiver to the infant’s needs. Securely attached infants are comfortable with social interaction and intimacy. Secure attachment is related to healthy subsequent cognitive and emotional development.

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What is Insecure Attachment? (Ainsworth et al 1978)What causes it? What can it lead to?

What is the difference in the various insecure attachment types?

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What is Insecure Attachment? (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • Insecure attachment – This is a 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. It may be associated with poor subsequent cognitive and emotional development.

  • Insecure Avoidant Type A– children who avoid social interaction and intimacy with others.

  • Insecure Resistant Type C – Children who both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction.

  • Insecure Disorganised Type D– Children whose behaviour patterns are inconsistent and a mix of types A & C.

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What Research Methods (Ainsworth et al 1978)

Were Used?

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Research Methods used (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • The research room was a novel environment

  • A 9 X 9 foot square marked off in to 16 squares to help the recording of the infant’s movements

  • Research methods used were Laboratory procedure using covert and controlledobservation

  • Using covert observation (One-way mirrors were used to prevent participants being aware they were being observed). Knowing your behaviour is being observed is likely to alter it.

  • It used Controlled observation because it involved structuring the behaviour of the participants as well as the observers –the participants had to follow 8 episodes and the observers had a checklist of 5 behaviours that they had to rate every 15 seconds.

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Give 2 Criticisms of the (Ainsworth et al 1978)

Strange Situation

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1. Is it Valid? (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • Validity – means are we measuring what we meant to measure. This lab procedure intended to measure the attachment types of children. Did it? A criticism is that it only measured the strength of one particular relationship, and this wasn’t necessarily with the main carer.

  • Others say this doesn’t matter, since Bowlby said the relationship with the main carer becomes internalised and is reflected in all other relationships-so if the child appeared insecurely attached, even if the main carer wasn’t present during the Strange Situation, the attachment type given to the child is a reflection of what is happening at home with the main carer.

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2. Is it Ethical? (Ainsworth et al 1978)

  • The intention of the Strange Situation was to cause mild distress. Is this acceptable? Ainsworth claimed that the whole procedure was not intended to be any more disturbing than ordinary life experiences, yet in episode 6 (The carer leaves the child alone) 20% of infants reportedly “cried desperately”.

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And what did Hazen and Shaver 1987 find about Adult Romantic Relationships in their

Newspaper Love Quiz?

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Love Quiz Findings Relationships in their

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Name and date the Research that aimed to study Relationships in their

Cross-Cultural Attachments

What were the Aims and Procedure?

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Cross-cultural patterns of attachment –Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Aim – To investigate global attachment patterns

  • Procedure - This was a meta-analysis (the data from 32 Strange Situation studies from

    eight countries was collated and analysed)

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What were Kroonenberg, 1988

The Findings?

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Findings Kroonenberg, 1988

In all countries, secure attachment was the most common –but…….!!!!!!!!!!!

Secure Attachment (Type B) -Most common in all cultures. The

The Lowest proportion was in China (50%)

The Highest (approx 75%) –GB & Sweden.


Avoidant Attachment (Type A)More common in W. Germany than other western countries.

Very rare in Israel and Japan.


Resistant Attachment (Type C) - Common in Israel, China & Japan.

Lowest proportion was in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden

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What Conclusions Kroonenberg, 1988

Can be drawn?

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Conclusions Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Globally, secure attachment was the most common and we could conclude, the “best” for healthy social and emotional development.

  • The variation in percentages, particularly between types A and C suggest that child-rearingpractices in different countries mayaffect the attachment of babies -------and/or

  • It may be that the Strange Situation does not work well in all cultures.

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Give a Criticism of the Kroonenberg, 1988

Cross-cultural Strange Situation

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Big Criticism: Is the Strange Situation Culturally Biased? Kroonenberg, 1988

  • The Strange Situation was developed in the U.S, an individualist country.

  • But in Japan for example, which is a collectivist country, the cultural norm is for mothers and babies to rarely be separated, which means we might expect to see high levels of separation anxiety and might explain the high % of Type C in the SS. Many of the differences in the cross-cultural SS concern collectivist countries.

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More on Culture Bias Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Rothbaum et al 2000 said that attachment theory and research is not relevant to other cultures because it is so rooted in American culture. Why did they say this? Here are two examples.

  • 1. The Continuity Hypothesis (Ainsworth said that those infants who are securely attached grow up to be socially and emotionally competent adults)- people who are independent and able to express their emotions. BUT!! ….. In Japan being a socially and emotionally competent adult means being group orientated and someone who is able to inhibit (not show) their feelings.

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We must be so careful when interpreting data!! Kroonenberg, 1988

  • What we call “avoidant” behaviour in the UK and USA, might well be called “independent” in Germany, an individualist country, but where independence is very highly valued. And just look at the graph and you will see that there are a higher proportion of type “As” in Germany.

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Methodological Issues (can also be used for evaluation) Kroonenberg, 1988

  • 1. Meta-analysis (the results of 32 S.S studies were analysed)

  • 2. Substantial study and large sample size (over 2000 babies)

  • 3. But half of the 32 studies studied were carried out in the US, reflecting the dominance of US in psychology studies.

  • 27 were carried out in individualistic cultures

  • Only 5 in collectivist cultures, implying that the sample was not truly representative.

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More Kroonenberg, 1988Methodological Issues

  • 4. Ainsworth’s Strange Situation was developed in the US so we can only make valid interpretations in cross-cultural studies if we really understand the attitudes to child-rearing in that culture.

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What does all this mean? Kroonenberg, 1988

  • When looking at attachment behaviours cross-culturally, some might question Bowlby and Ainsworth’s view, that attachment is a universal factor in human development. However, whilst there are differences, and to some extent, attachment theory is culture-bound, the impressive fact is that in in all 8 countries involved in the meta-analysis of the Strange Situation, secure attachment was the most common, by far, and we could conclude, the “best” for healthy social and emotional development.

  • Certainly research has shown that secure attachment is associated with good psychiatric health in adulthood.

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What is Kroonenberg, 1988Disruption of the

Attachment Bond?

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Disruption of the Attachment Bond Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Deprivation - temporary or permanent disruption of the attachment bond.

  • This means there was an attachment to start with but it’s been broken in some way, perhaps due to hospitalisation or death of the mother.

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Identify some effects that disruption of attachment has on Kroonenberg, 1988

A child’s social and emotional development

Provide Research support

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Effects of Disruption. Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Robertson and Robertson observed John and Laura sufferering when they experienced physical disruption with no substitute emotional care. But Jane, Thomas, Lucy and Kate coped well when given substitute emotional care at the Robertson’s home .

  • Spitz and Wolf 1946, observed that 100 “normal” children placed in an institution became severely depressed within a few months.

  • Skeels and Dye 1939, found that the intellectual deficits of the institutionalised children recovered when they were transferred to a home for mentally retarded adults and given lots of T.L.C.

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Evaluate the Kroonenberg, 1988

Robertson Research

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Evaluation of the Robertson Research Kroonenberg, 1988

  • 1.  High validity – films were made of John and Laura. These were naturalistic observations in a realistic setting.

  • 2.  Low validity – The conclusions were based on case studies of only a few children, who may not have been typical of the majority of children.

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So what factors effects whether Kroonenberg, 1988

A child will recover from Disruption?

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Bowlby concluded.. Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Children cope better and recover better from disruption if they were securely attached to start with.

  • Bowlby 1956 –: 60 children under the age of 4 who had TB

  • They were put in a hospital, no substitute emotional care was given.

  • When assessed in adolescence. 63% were maladjusted, leaving 37% who were not.

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So What is Kroonenberg, 1988


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Privation Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Privation – when there was never any attachment bond to begin with.

  • This can be due to extreme abuse or Institutional care, or in rare cases, children kept in total isolation.

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Can you describe some real-life cases? Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Genie and the Czech twins, handout N0. 8

  • AlSO it is essential to revise The Affects of Privation, Hodges and Tizard, 1989 also Handout No. 8

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The Findings suggest.. Kroonenberg, 1988

  • The findings suggest that early privation had a negative effect on the ability to form relationships even when children were given good subsequent care.

  • This supports Bowlby’s view that the failure to form attachments during the sensitive period has an irreversible effect on emotional development.

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What are some of the effects of Kroonenberg, 1988

Privation and Institutionalisation?

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The Effects are…. Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Attachment Disorder – There are two types:

  • Reactive or inhibited – when the child is unable to cope in most social situations

  • Disinhibited - Over-friendly and attention seeking to people the child hardly knows.

  • Deprivation Dwarfism – Gardner 1972, suggests emotional disturbance may effect the production of growth hormones which may explain why children in institutional care tend to be physically small.

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The research suggests that some Kroonenberg, 1988

Children are able to recover from privation. How come?

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Evaluation Kroonenberg, 1988

  • Some research suggests that children who do not form an attachment within the sensitive period are unable to recover.

  • But this is not true of all children. How come?

  • One reason is because we really don’t know enough about the children in the studies. For example in the Hodges and Tizard study -Why were some adopted and others not? Could it be that some were easier children to start with – that’s why they were chosen for adoption, so of course, their outcomes were better!

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1.Why are we interested in day care? Kroonenberg, 1988

2. What is Day care?

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Day Care is - Kroonenberg, 1988

  • A form of temporary care (not all day and not all night) that is not provided by family members and takes place outside of the home.

  • Why are we interested in day care?

  • Because day care involves the very thing psychologists are interested in – disruption of the attachment bond with the primary carer which may affect the child’s social and emotional development.

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What do we mean by Kroonenberg, 1988

Social Development?

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Social Development Kroonenberg, 1988

  • The development of sociability, learning to relate to others and acquiring appropriate knowledge & skills of how to integrate socially.

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You may be asked for research evidence on social development and aggression in children

In Day Care.

Here it is.

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Research on the impact of Day Care and aggression in children

  • Negative effects on social development    

  • Bowlby said prolonged separation from mother figure could cause long-term maladjustment. Many studies of day care have supported this.

  • Violata & Russell, 1994 did a meta-analysis of the findings of 88 studies of day care and concluded that regular day care of more than 20 hours p/w had a negative effect on the social and emotional development of young children.

  • Increased Aggressiveness (NICHD 2003)    

  • The NICHD in America started a longitudinal study in 1991, using 1000 children from mixed backgrounds and locations. Assessed aged 5, the data found that, irrespective of quality, the more time spent in day care, the more aggressive and disobedient they were deemed to be by adults. Belsky, 2007 looked at the same children at the end of primary school education, and still found these children more aggressive than children who hadn’t been in day care.

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On the other hand and aggression in children…

  • This same NICHD study found that a mother’s sensitivity to her child is a better indicator of whether a child had behavioural problems, than was time in child care. Sensitive mothering was linked to fewer problem behaviours. Higher maternal education and family income also predicted lower levels of problem behaviours. So this same data suggests that children’s development is more strongly affected by factors at home, than by day care.

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Peer Relationships and aggression in children  

  • Bowlby’s theory of attachment and his Continuity Hypothesis predicts better peer relationships for securely attached children. There is evidence that children in day care are less securely attached. Belsky & Rovine, 1988, assessed infants in day care for more than 20 hours p/w using the Strange Situation. They found these children were more likely to be insecurely attached than children at home. We could hypothesise that their peer relationships would also suffer too.

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On the other hand and aggression in children…  

  • Day care allows children to develop social strategies, such as the ability to negotiate and make friends. Field, 1991, found the amount of time in full-time day care was positively correlated to the number of friends the children had once they were at school.

  • However we can’t assume that experiences in day care cause later sociability - there is a link; it could be that shy and unsociable children have mothers who are like that too (temperament is inherited) and these mothers prefer to stay at home to care for their children. The outgoing mothers send their outgoing children to day care, which explains why they’re more sociable.

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Mediating Factors and aggression in children

  • A mediating factor is something that connects two other things, in this case it is intervening between the effects of day care and social development.

  • Quality of care - A NICHD study (1997) reported that low-quality day care was associated with poor social development.

  • Individual Differences – The above NICHD study found that insecurely attached children did less well in day care. On the other hand, Egeland & Hiester, 1995, found that insecurely attached children did best in day care and it was the securely attached ones who became aggressive. This might be due to the fact that the insecurely attached children needed the care and attention that they weren’t getting at home.

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More Mediating Factors and aggression in children

  • Child’s age and number of hours

  • Gregg et al, 2005, found that the negative effects of day care were more likely to be found in children placed in day care before they were 18 months old. On the other hand, Clarke-Stewart et al, 1994, found no difference in attachment between spending a lot of time in day care (30 hours or more a week from 3 months of age).

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Implications of research into attachment and day care and aggression in children

  • Now we must look at how research translates into the practical issues of childcare provision in the UK. What advice can be given to governments and to parents?

  • Attachment Research

  • In previous handouts we discovered that James and Joyce Robertson (remember little John and Laura in hospital?) found that the negative effects of emotional disruption could be avoided if substitute emotional care was provided. This entailed specific adults spending time with the children and responding to their needs in a sensitive way in the same way that a primary care giver would. The characteristics of quality daycare do just that and psychologists have identified the following key characteristics needed for high-quality day care.

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Characteristics of high-quality day care and aggression in children

  • 1.Low child-to-staff ratio – NICHD study 1999, identified this was absolutely necessary for high-quality care.

  • 2. Minimal staff turnover – Schaffer, 1998, identified consistency of care as one of the most important factors in high-quality care.

  • 3. Sensitive emotional care – The NICHD study found that 23% of infant-care providers give highly sensitive care, 50% give moderately sensitive care and 20% are emotionally detached from the infants in their care.

  • 4. Qualified Staff – Sylva et al 2003, reported that the higher the qualifications of the staff, the better the outcome for the children in terms of their social development.

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What are the most important factors to consider and aggression in children

When looking at Day Care?

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The most important factors in day care with regard to the welfare of children are:

  • 1. QUALITY of the day care Research indicates positive effects for good quality day care but negative effects for poor quality care. Quality encompasses having sufficient stimulation, such as toys, sufficient and verbal interactions between staff and children and sensitive emotional care to provide a substitute for the break in the mother-child relationship. A rapidturnover of staff can have a profound effect

  • 2. CHILD-TO-STAFF RATIO This affects results tremendously as it determines how much attention each child gets.

  • 3. AGE of the children in care. Research indicates day care can be detrimental to very young babies.

  • 4. NUMBER OF HOURS the child is in care This has a big effect on whether the bond with the primary care giver is disrupted.

  • 5. The strength of the bond between each child and its primary care giver is very important. Securely attached children are less likely to be affected by the separation that day care entails. (The Strange Situation study)