Interactional synchrony- mirroring; coordinated rhythmic exchanges; the infant
reacts in time with the caregiver's speech, resulting in a 'conversational dance'.
Reciprocity- Mutual behaviours; interaction flows back and forth between caregiver and infant.
Sensitive responsiveness- caregiver responds appropriately to the
signals from the infant.
Caregiverese- Modified language; slow, high pitched tone when talking to infants
Imitation- Innate ability of the infant to copy the caregivers actions such as facial expressions.
Meltzoff and Moore-
found infants between 2
and 3 weeks of age
appeared to imitate the
facial expressions and
hand movements of the
Condon and Sander-
showed how babies
do appear to move in
time with adult
Hard to measure the
behaviours. Just observing
hand movements or changes
in expression. It may be
concluded that the movement
was in response to the
caregiver, but it may have just
been a coincidence. We
cannot be certain the
behaviours seen have a
Good validity- the mother-infact
interactions are often filmed,
meaning fine details can be
recorded and analysed later.
Babies don't know they're being
studied, meaning their
behaviours don't change as a
result of observation.
good practical applications- it
helps to form high-quality
attachments which improve
which could help low-income
(Schaffer and Emerson)
Pre-attachment- (0-3months) Infants are attached to humans, preferring
them to objects and events. This is shown by smiling at faces.
Indiscriminate attachment phase- (3-7months) Infants begin to discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar faces,
smiling at known ones. However there are still no preferences for who cares of it.
Discrimination attachment phase- (from 7 months) Infants develop specific attachments, staying close
to particular people and becoming stressed when left with strangers.
Multiple attachments- (from 9 months) Infants from strong emotional bonds with other
significant carers such as grandparents.
Schaffer & Emerson- 60 babies from a
working class area in Glasgow were
observed and had their parents
interviews for 18 months. The identified
stages of attachment formation
occured clearly. Strongly attached
infants had mothers who responded to
their needs quickly. Weak attachments
had mothers who responded less
quickly. 87% had at least 2 primary
attachments, 31% having 5. In 39% of
cases the primary attachment was not
the primary care giver.
High external validity.
made by parents during
ordinary activities and
were reported to
researchers. This means
the behaviour of the
babies was not affected
by the presence of
Just because a baby gets
distressed when an
individual leaves the room
does not mean that the
individual is a 'true'
attachment figure. Bowlby
pointed out that children
get distressed when a
playmate leaves the room,
does not signify an
attachment to them.
Bowlby argues that most (or all)
babies form attachments to a
single main carer before they
develop multiple attachments. But
multiple attachments appear from
the outset in cultures where
multiple attachments are the
norm (van ijzendoorn), collectivist
cultures where families work
together jointly in everything.
+longitudinal study- gathers wide range of detailed information. -Low population validity- small sample of scottish. -Parents may have lied in
the interviews to give socially desirable answers.
Role of the Father
Father-infant attachments are influenced by: degree of sensitivity,
type of attachment with their own parents, marital intimacy,
Grossman carried out a longitudinal study looking at parent's behaviour
and found that the quality of attachment with the father was less
important in teenagers than the attachment with the mother. Fathers
are less important in long-term emotional development.
Schaffer and Emerson found 1/3 of infacts primary
attachment was their father. 3/4 form them as a
secondary attachment at 18 months.
Field filmed 4 month old babies and found that primary
caregiver fathers, like mothers, spent more time smiling,
imitating and holding infants than secondary caregiver fathers.
Father's have a
different role in
attachment, one that
is more to do with play
and stimulation rather
Security attachments (Mary Ainsworth)
Type A: Insecure avoidant. Very little separation anxiety and stranger anxiety. Little
interest in reunion with mother. Mother and stranger can comfort equally.
Type B: Secure. Distressed when mother leaves. Avoidant when alone with stranger but okay
when mother present. Happy when reunited with mother. Uses mother as a secure base for
Type c: Insecure resistant. Intense separation and stranger anxiety. resists at mothers
reunion- is inconsolable. Little exploration behaviour.
Strange situation: 106 infants were observed and videoed in an unfamiliar environment. There were 8 episodes, each 3
mins long, apart from the first being 30 secs. Behavioural categories studied included; proximity, contact, avoidance,
resistance and exploration. 1)Mother and infant are introduced to environment. 2) Mother and infant play together. 3)
Stranger enters and talks to mother. 4) Mother leaves, leaving stranger and infant alone to play. 5) Mother returns and
comforts infant and stranger leaves. 6) Mother then leaves, leaving infant alone. 7) Stranger returns and tries to comfort
the infant. 8) Mother returns. 20% were type A. 70% were type B. 10% were type C.
are easy to
Culture bound- might
not have the same
mean they respond
differently and so do
mothers are rarely
Imposed etic- using a technique which is only
relevant to one culture to study and draw
conclusions about another.
Van Izjendoorn and Kroonenberg: Meta-analysis of studies across 8 countries using the strange situation procedure.
Intra-cultural differences were greater than inter-cultural differences. Type B was the most common over all countries.
Individualist (western) countries had higher % type A. (Germany 35% and lowest in Japan). And collectivist (non-western)
countries had higher % type C. (Israel 29% and lowest Britain.)
+High population validity -Results may not be representative (compares countries not cultures).
12 greylag goose eggs, half was hatched with the mother goose and half was in
an incubator, hatched with Lorenz. All behaviours were observed when
hatched. All goslings were marked according to birthing conditions and were
put into an up-turned box. Goslings hatched by their mother immediately
followed her. Those who had be hatched by Lorenz, followed him. The goslings
imprinted on the first thing they saw, and this had to occur in the first 24hrs.
Goslings imprinted on humans, when mature, tried to mate with them.
Difficult to generalise-
attachment is quite
different from that in
birds. Mammals show
much more emotional
attachment to young.
Guiton found that chicks imprinted on yellow washing up gloves and would
try to mate with them as adults. This supports the idea that young animals
are born with the innate want to imprint on the first thing they see.
but, the effects aren't so long-lasting. Guiton found that with time
and experience, the chicks learnt to mate with their own kind. This
suggests imprinting is not as long lasting as lorenz believed.
16 baby rhesus monkeys separated from their mothers, put in
four conditions. 1)Wire mother produced milk and cloth mother
didnt. 2) wire mother produced milk, cloth mother producing
too. 3) wire mother producing milk 4) Cloth mother producing
milk. Time spent feeding and with each mother was recorded, as
well as their response when frightened with a stimulus. Monkeys
preferred contact with the cloth mother when given the choice,
regardless of if she had milk or not. Monkeys with only the wire
mother had diarrhoea and signs of stress. When frightened the
infant would cling to cloth mother if available. Infants with cloth
mother explored more.
Practical applications- It has helped social workers understand
the risk factors in child abuse and so do more to prevent and
stop it. Also now understand the importance of attachment
figures in young monkeys in zoos .
Generalisation issues, ethical issues
Explanations for Attachment
Behaviours are learnt through association. It suggests that infants form
attachments by making an association with the mother and food/pleasure.
UCS = Food. UCR= Pleasure. NS=Mother. CS=Mother. CR=Pleasure. The Mother
is paired with the food, and after repeated pairings, the pleasure is associated
with the mother even when she is not providing food.
Baby is negatively reinforced by the mother taking away the uncomfortable experience of hunger and
replacing it with food. The mother gives a pleasure response. Milk is the primary reinforcer, Mother is the
secondary reinforcer. Crying is reinforced because it provides a pleasurable consequence.
Dollard and Miller found that babies are fed approximately 2,000 times in the first year,
providing many opportunities to associated caregiver with food.
The importance of
food in attachment is
often called 'cupboard
love', suggesting that
children learn to love
whoever feeds them.
Lorenz's imprinted geese maintained
attachments regardless of who fed them,
Harlow's monkeys attached to a cloth
mother when a wire one was producing
milk. This challenges the theory, showing
attachment is not due to food.
Shaffer and emerson showed that
for many babies their primary
attachment was not the person who
fed them. Suggesting that other
factors are more important than
food in the formation of attachment
research shows that quality of
attachment is associated with
developing good reciprocity, and
attentive, sensitive carers. It is very
hard to reconcile these findings with
the idea that attachment develops
Studies into modelling suggest that children learn to love
parents by modelling attachment behaviours such as seeing
them hug and smile at each other. Thus is rewarded with
approval when they display it e.g (thats a lovely smile). This
version, where babies learn attachment as a result of their
interactions, fits with the research on interactional synchrony
Bowlby suggests that attachment can be explained by evolution.
We have evolved a biological need to attach to our main
caregiver. This is to ensure that we survive until sexual l maturity.
Monotropy- The innate tendancy to form attachment with one main
caregiver- usually the mother.
Bowbly believed that the more time a baby spent with the primary
attachment/mother, the better. This ensures a better quality of attachment
and ensures the child spends the most amount of time in safety.
Social releasers- Attachment behaviours that are innate and species specific.
They aim to gain and maintain the attention and proximity of their mother. Such
as crying and smiling.
Critical Period- The period where attachments between infants and
caregivers must form or they will never. This is the first couple years.
Internal working model- Cognitive
framework/blueprint to help us
understand ourselves and others.
Used as a template for future
relationships an is based on our
Attachments are adaptive in three ways:
result in a desire to seek
proximity with a carer in
order to stay safe and
grow up to reach sexual
allow an infant to
learn how to form
Secure base for
cognitive skills and
still staying safe.
Shaffer and emerson found
that most babies did attach
to one person at first, but a
significant amount formed
multiple attachments. This
assertion that babies form
The idea of an internal working model is supported.
Bailey studied mothers, finding that those with poor
attachment to their own parents were more likely to
have infants that were poorly attached.
Monotropy is socially sensitive. The findings that a primary care giver having
time away from the infant will affect attachments and disadvantage the
child has had some effects. it has highlighted the importance of maternity
leave, leaving less pressure on mums to get back into work. However it is
argued that it blames the mothers for anything that goes wrong in a child's
life and prohibits them from having time away.
Secure attachments to a
sensitive caregiver =
attachments with a less
sensitive caregiver =
Disruption of Attachment
When the infant
has never had he
chance to form
Occurs in extreme
Genie suffered from extreme
cruelty from her parents, and never
formed any attachments.She was
kept in a room on her own and was
strapped to a potty chair. She was
beaten if she made any sounds.
She was physically underdeveloped
and made animal-like sounds. She
never developed social and
Loss of the mother
figure) for a
long-term or even
Bowlby's 44 thieves- delinquent
teenagers accused of stealing.
Families were interview to establish
any prolonged separations from
mothers. All thieves were interviewed
for signs of affectionless psychopathy,
lack of guilt, and empathy. 14 of the
44 thieves could be described as
affectionless psychopaths, 12 of these
had experienced deprivation.
When a child is
away from the
caregiver for a
amount of time.
Robertson & robertson- John aged 18
months stayed in residential nursery
whilst his mother had another baby.
For the first day, he protested being
separated from his mother. He
started trying to get the attention of
the other nurses. He began to show
signs of detachment- he was reluctant
to be affectionate when his mother
returned. Separation has bad effects
for john, maybe even permanent
damage to their relationship.
Mother infant continuous emotional
care is crucial for normal emotional and
intellectual development. Lack of
emotional care leads to affectionless
Rutter- 111 Romanian orphans who were adopted by
british families were followed over a prolonged period.
Some were adopted before they were 6 months old, and
some were after 6 months. The children who were
younger than 6 months had the same level of emotional
development as the British adopted children. However
those who were adopted after 6 months showed signs of
insecure attachments and social problems. The effects of
privation can be reversed if an attachment starts to form
before 6 months.