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Caregiver infant interactions


Interaction synchrony



Reciprocity is a form of interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual responsiveness, with both parties being able to produce response from each other.

Smiling is an example of reciprocity – when a smile occurs in the infant it triggers a smile in the caregiver, and vice versa


Interactional synchrony

From 2-3 weeks old, infants imitate specific specific facial and hand gestures exhibited by their carers.


Evidence against caregiver infant interactions

Hard to know what is happening, observe simple gesture and expression, and assume infant's intentions.

Feldman said they are just observations of what the baby is doing, purpose not entirely understood.


What are the three types of attachment figures?


Role of the father

Fathers as primary carers


The role of the father

Grossman et al attachment to fathers less important but fathers may have a different role - play and stimulation.


Fathers as primary carers

Field: fathers as primary carers adopt attachment behaviour more typical of mothers.


Schaffer and Emerson study

A classic study on the development of attachment


Schaffer and Emerson Aim

To investigate the age of attachment formation and who attachments are formed with.


Schaffer and Emerson procedure

Mothers of 60 Glasgow babies reported monthly on separation anxiety


Schaffer and Emerson findings

Most babies showed attachment to a primary caregiver by 32 weeks and developed multiple attachments soon after this.


Evaluate strengths of Schaffer and Emerson study

Good external validity, observations were in participant's natural environments.

Longitudinal design, some participants were observed at each age, eliminating individual differences as a confound.


Evaluate weaknesses of Schaffer and Emerson study

Limited sample characteristics, all families were from the same area over 50 years ago, so may lack generalisability.


Schaffer stages of attachment

Asocial stage

Indiscriminate attachment

Specific attachments

Multiple attachments


Asocial stage

Little observable social behaviour


Indiscriminate attachment

More observable attachment behaviour, accept cuddles from any adult.


Specific attachments

Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety in regard to one particular adult.


Multiple attachments

Attachment behaviour directed towards more than one adult (secondary attachments).


Evidence against Schaffer's stages of attachment?

Asocial stage, social behaviour is hard to observe in the first weeks but this doesn't mean the babu is 'asocial'.

Conflicting evidence, Van Ijzendoorn et al, research in different contexts has found multiple attachments may appear first.

Just because a child protests when an adult leaves does not necessarily mean attachment.


Animal studies of attachment

Harlow's Rhesus monkey

Lorenz's Gosling study


Lorenz's Gosling study

Gosling saw Lorenz when they hatched.


Lorenz's findings

Newly hatched chicks attach to the first moving object they see imprinting on them permanently.


Evaluate supporting Lorenz's gosling study

Guiton et al chicks attached to yellow gloves used to handle them and adults tried to mate with them agreeing with Lorenz's conclusion that birds attach to the first moving object they see.


Evaluate against Lorenz's

Guiton et al adult birds that were once imprinted onto yellow gloves that used to handle them, but after a while once mixed with others from the same species they later preferred their own species, suggesting imprinting isn't permanent.


Harlow's monkey study

Baby monkeys give cloth or wire 'mother' with feeding bottle attached.


Findings Harlow's monkey study

Monkeys clung to cloth surrogate rather than wire one, regardless of which dispensed milk.

Monkeys grew up maternally deprived.


Evaluative weaknesses of Harlow's monkey study

Ethically unacceptable, many would argue that short and long-term psychological harm done to monkeys cannot be justified.

Whether we can generalise monkey attachment behaviour to humans is also questionable.


Evaluate supporting Harlow's monkey study

Harlow's research can be argued ethically justifiable in that monkey's suffering was outweighed by the psychological insights gained in helping better understand the attachment process and the long-term effects of falling to attach.


Bowlby's monotropic theory as an explanation of attachment

Bowlby proposed that attachment is adaptive, meaning that it exists because it maximises our chances of survival. Hence we haven an innate drive to become attached to a caregiver because attachment has long-term benefits.


Features of Bowlby's monotropic theory

Bowlby proposed that attachment should take place within a critical period of 3-6 months, if it doesn't individual will have difficulty forming relationships with others in later life and be socially and psychologically maladjusted.

Infant has innate drive to display social releasers that cause care-giving from adults.

Baby will have one primary attachment figure, usually the mother.

First relationship is a model for and creates expectations about what all future relationships will be like (IWM)