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Image by Hu Chen


Caregiver-infant interactions


Basis for attachment

Reciprocity: turn taking; eliciting a response from the other

Interactional synchrony: mirroring

Meltzoff & Moore (1977) - IS shown as early as 2-3 weeks old

Still face experiment: Tronick (1975)


Highly controlled research

Koepke (1983) failed to replicate M&M

- Isabella (1989) securely attached children more likely to interact

- Methodological issues: babies





Lorenz: Random allocation, 1/2 geese eggs hatched with Lorenz & 1/2 with mother; mixed up in upturned box, incubator group followed Lorenz and others the mother 

Critical period: Lengthened the time between birth and seeing 1st object - imprinting needs to be within 17 hours

Harlow: 16 rhesus monkeys, one wire mother with food, one cloth mother no food, spent more time with and when scared went to cloth mother. As adults 'prived' monkeys hurt offspring. 


+ Guiton (1966) sexual imprinting on yellow glove

- Issues with animal extrapolation

+ Real life application

- Ethical issues of Harlow


Types of attachment: Ainsworth


Strange situation; controlled observation, 7 stages of 3 minutes, 2 way mirror, target behaviour = proximity seeking, secure base, stranger anxiety, separation anxiety, reunion behaviour.

Three attachment types:

Secure (Type B) 60-75%,  Insecure-Avoidant (Type A) 20-25%, Insecure-Resistant (Type C) 3%


+ Standardised procedure. High inter-rater reliability 94%.

+ Good predictive validity of future outcomes (Hazan & Shaver)

- Main & Soloman added Type D Insecure-Disorganised

- Ethnocentric bias - imposed etic to generalise to other cultures

- Ignores temperament (Kagan)

Romanian orphans: Institutionalisation


Rutter (2011) 165 Romanian orphans and 52 adopted 'control' group, longitudinal study (tested at 4, 6, 11, 15 and 22-25 yrs)

Adopted <6 months IQ 102

 Adopted 6 months - 2 years IQ 86

Adopted >2 years IQ 77

Adopted >6 months disinhibited attachment (indiscriminate attachment)

Support Bowlby's sensitive period 

Zeanah (2005) 95 institutionalised Romanian children 12-31 mths

19% securely attached compared to 74% controls

44% disinhibited attachment compared to 20% controls


+ Real world application

+ Longitudinal research -long terms effects

- Low generalisability - specific type of deprivation

- Complexity of institutions - confounding variables

Schaffer's Stages of attachment


Stage 1: Asocial - weeks

Stage 2: Indiscriminate - 2-7 months, preference for people, no separation anxiety

Stage 3: Specific - 7 months, separation anxiety, primary attachment formed

Stage 4: Multiple - 1 year, secondary attachments 29% within one month

S&E (1964) Glaswegian baby study, 60 working-class infants & mothers, visited every month for a year & at 18 months, mothers self reported separation protest & stranger anxiety to researcher. 

Infants attached to most sensitive to babies needs


- Social desirability bias

- Lacks population validity

- Practical applications

- Methodological issues: babies

Learning theory of attachment


Cupboard love - based on food

CC: Mother (NS) is paired with food (UCS) so CS-CR (pleasure) link is formed

OC: When baby cries mother feeds (+ve reinforcement)

Mother keeps feeding the baby to remove crying (-ve reinforcement)

Mum is a secondary driver & the food is the primary driver


- Harlow's research

- Quality time is most important to form attachment (S&E 1964)

- Environmentally reductionist

- Hay and Vespo (1988) SLT better explains modelling attachment behaviour and vicarious reinforcement of wanted behaviours

Cultural variations in attachment


Van Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg (1988) meta analysis; 32 studies, 8 countries, 1990 ppts

Secure attachment most common

Individualist countries had highest insecure-avoidant 

Collectivist countries had highest insecure-resistant

Simonelli (2014) 76 infants, 50% insecure - temporal validity?

Jin (2012) 87 infants, only one avoidant baby


+ V&K (1988) - more difference within a country rather than across - cannot generalise

V&K (1988) individualistic culture bias: 27/32 studies

- Imposed etic to use a Westernised test to judge others

+ Standardised procedure. High inter-rater reliability 94%.

Early attachment on later relationships


First attachment template for future relationships (IWM)

Romantic: Good attachment - good relationship expectations

Insecure attachment - poor relationship expectations

Hazan & Shaver (1987) - resistant = shorter relationships, avoidant = not like intimacy, secure attachments = long lasting

Parenting: Bailey (2000) same attachment with baby as to own mother; Harlow (1966)

Friendships: Myron-Wilson and Smith (1998) secure not involved in bullying, avoidant likely to be victims, resistant likely to be perpetrator 


+ Supportive evidence (above)

- Retrospective studies

- Confounding variables

- Does highlighting a risk lead to a self fulfilling prophecy?

Role of the



S&E (1964) 3% solely attached to dad, 75% had attachment to dad by 18 months

Father has a separate distinct role as a playmate (Grossman)

Fathers can be the primary caregiver if mum is absent (Field)

Biological differences - mum has more oestrogen/ oxytocin

Social differences - expectations of females = caring


A distinct role of playmate (Grossman, 2002)

+ Hrdy (1999) fathers less likely to detect distress

- Belsky (2009) depends on security of adult relationship

-/+ Impact on the economy

Bowlby's theory of attachment


Miss Ceci (acronym)

Attachment is innate for survival (evolutionary theory)

Monotropy - infants have a special bond with mother (or substitute)

Internal working model - blueprint of relationships

Continuity hypothesis - the IWM stays consistent in lifetime

Critical period (0-2.5 yrs) & sensitive period (0-5 yrs)

Social releasers - innate behaviours that trigger attachments system of adults


+ Brazleton (1975) importance of social releasers

+ Bailey (2007) IWM: 99 mothers - those with insecure attachment style had poor attachment with own child

+ Rutter (2011) importance of critical period

- Social sensitivity: expectations of females

- S&E (1964) multiple attachments

Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis


Maternal deprivation is prolonged separation

Critical period of 0-2.5 years

Best dose for infant to be away from mum is zero dose

Deprivation leads to irreversible damage: delinquency, low IQ and affectionless psychopathy

44 thieves study: 44 'delinquents', families and ppt interviewed, 14/44 affectionless psychopaths and 12/44 experienced maternal deprivation


- Low reliability - Lewis did not replicate results on wider sample

- Social desirability bias of study

- Bowlby confused privation and deprivation

+ Too deterministic (irreversible) Romanian orphans reversed IQ damage before 6 mths

+ Social sensitivity


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