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Flashcards in Attachment Key Terms Deck (26)
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An emotional bond between two people. 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.



Any person who is providing care for a child, such as a parent, grandparent, sibling, other family family, childminder, etc.


Interactional Synchrony

When two people interact they tend to mirror what the other is doing in terms of their facial and body movements. This includes imitating emotions as well as behaviours. This is described as synchrony - when two (or more) things move in the same pattern.



Responding to the action of another with a similar action, where the actions of one partner elicit a response from the other partner. The responses aren't necessarily similar as in interactional synchrony.


Multiple Attachment

Having more than one attachment figure.


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 fulfil the role.


Separation Anxiety

The distress shown by an infant when separated from his/her caregiver. Not necessarily biological mother.


Stranger Anxiety

The distress shown by an infant when approached or picked up by someone who is unfamiliar.



An innate readiness to develop a strong bond with the mother which takes place during a specific time in development: first few hours after birth/hatching. If it doesn't at this time it probably won't ever happen.


Classical Conditioning

Learning through association. A neutral stimulus is consistently paired with an unconditioned stimulus so it eventually takes on the properties of this stimulus and is able to produce a conditioned response.


Learning Theory

The name given to a group of explanations which explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than any inborn tendencies or higher order thinking.


Operant Conditioning

Learning through reinforcement.


Social Learning Theory

Learning through observing others and imitating behaviours that are rewarded.


Continuity Hypothesis

The idea that emotionally secure infants go on to be emotionally secure, trusting and socially confident adults.


Critical Period

A biologically determined period of time, during which certain characteristics can develop. Outside of this time window such development will not be possible.


Internal Working Model

A mental model of the world which enable individuals to predict and control their environment. In the case of attachment, the model relates to a person's expectations about relationships.



The idea that the one relationship that the infant has with their primary attachment figure is of special significance in emotional development.


Social Releaser

A social behaviour or characteristic that elicits caregiving and leads to attachment.



A type of attachment which describes those children who tend to avoid social interaction and intimacy with others.



A type of attachment which describes those infants who both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction.


Secure attachment

A strong and contented attachment of an infant their 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. This is related to healthy subsequent cognitive and emotional development.


Strange Situation

A controlled observation designed to test attachment security.


Cultural Variations

The ways that different groups of people vary in terms of their social practices and the effects these practices have on development and behaviour.



To be deprived is to lose something. Deprivation refers to the loss of emotional care that is normally provided by a primary caregiver.



The effect of institutional care. Can be applied widely to the effects of an institution but concern focuses specifically on how time spent in an institution like an orphanage can affect the development of children. The effects include social, mental and physical underdevelopment. Some can be irreversible.


Internal Working Model

A mental model of the world which enables individuals to predict and control their environment. In the case of attachment the model relates to a person's expectations about relationships