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Flashcards in Developmental Psychology Deck (36):

define reciprocity.

How two people interact. Babies have periodic alert phases and signal that they are ready for reaction. Mothers typically pick up on this ⅔ of the time


define interactional synchrony.

Parent and infant reflecting on actions and emotions of the other in a coordinated way. From around three months this interaction seems to be increasingly frequent.


define attachment

A two way emotional bond between two individuals in which each individual sees the other as essential for their own emotional stability


Stages of attachment: stage one.

Asocial stage - Baby’s behaviour towards non-human objects and humans is very similar.


Stages of attachment: stage two.

Indiscriminate attachment - 2-7 months - Babies show more observable social behaviour and a preference for people rather than objects.


Stages of attachment: stage three.

Specific attachment - around 7 months - Babies start to show anxiety towards strangers and become anxious when separated from one particular adult.


Stages of attachment: stage four

Multiple attachments - Attachment is extended to other adults with whom they regularly spend time.


Schaffer and Emerson.

Investigate the formation of early attachments - in particular, the age that they developed. 60 babies, All from Glasgow, majority from skilled working-class families. Mothers were visited every month for the first 18 months, they were then asked questions about the infants separation anxieties. 25 - 32 weeks of age about 50% of the babies showed signs of separation anxiety towards a particular adult, usually the mother (this is specific attachment). Attachment tended to be to the caregiver who was most interactive and sensitive to infant signals. By the age of 40 weeks 80% of the babies had a specific attachment and 30% displayed multiple attachments. human attachments develop in three distinct stages.


Multiple attachments.

Attachments to two or more people. Most babies appear to develop multiple attachments once they have formed one true attachment to a main carer.


Schaffer and Emerson PEI's

It is backed up by Schaffer and Emerson's own research.
One methodological criticism of this research is that the characteristics of the sample are very alike - decreases the population validity of the experiment.
another strength is that the study was longitudinal, this means that the same children were followed up and observed regularly - longitudinal studies have higher internal validates.
There is a problem studying the 'asocial stage' and although it is 'asocial' many important interactions take place during this stage. You cannot observe the behaviour of a baby so young.


Role of the father.

Grossman carried out a longitudinal study looking at both parents’ behaviour and its relationship to the infants quality of attachments into their teens. Quality of attachment with mother was related to attachments in adolescence suggesting that father attachment was less important. However, the quality of fathers play was related to quality adolescent attachments. This suggests that fathers have a different role.


Fathers as PCG's.

There is evidence to suggest that when fathers take on the role of PCG they adopt behaviours more predominant in mothers. Field filmed 4-month-old babies interactions with PCG mothers, SCG fathers and PCG fathers. PCG fathers spent more time holding the babies than SCG fathers. This behaviour seems important to building a relationship with the infant. The key to the attachment relationship is the level of responsiveness.


Animal studies.

Studies carried out on non-human animal species rather than on human, either
for ethical or practical reasons.



Investigated the mechanisms of imprinting. Lorenz split a large clutch of goose eggs into two batches. One batch hatch naturally, the other batch hatched and Lorenz was the first moving thing they saw. After birth, the incubator hatched goslings followed Lorenz around.Imprinting is a form of attachment, exhibited mainly by nidifugous birds, whereby close contact is kept with the first large moving object encountered.



Test learning theory by comparing attachment behaviour in baby monkeys. Two types of surrogate mother were constructed – a harsh wire mother and a soft towelling mother. 16 baby monkeys were used, 4 in each condition. Monkeys preferred contact with the towelling mother when given a choice of surrogate mother regardless of whether she produced milk. Rhesus monkeys have an innate unlearned need for contact comfort, suggesting that attachment concerns emotional stability more than food.


Animal studies: PEI's

Hard to generalise to humans.
Questions of Lorenz' findings - imprinting doesn't seem to be as permanent as Lorenz thought.
Harlow's findings have had a profound effect on psychologists understanding of human-mother infant interaction.
Practical value - Harlow's research has had many important applications in practical contexts.


Learning theory

Name given to a group of explanations which explain behaviour in terms of learning rather than any inborn tendencies or higher order thinking.Behaviourists believe that all behaviour (including attachment) is learned either through classical or operant conditioning. We are all born as ‘blank slates’ and everything we become can be explained as as a result of our experiences.


Classical conditioning.

Learning through association. Behaviours demonstrated are a reflex action and there is no intervening thought process. Involves learning to associate two stimuli together so that we begin to respond to one in the same way as we already respond to the other. In the case of attachment, food serves as an unconditional stimulus.


Operant conditioning

Learning occurs when we are rewarded or punished for doing something.Each time you do something with a pleasant consequence (reward) the behaviour is reinforced. It becomes more probable that you will repeat this behaviour in the future. If something has an unpleasant consequence (punishment) then it it less likely you’ll repeat the behaviour.


Bowlby's monotropic theory.

Developed an evolutionary theory of attachment. He believed that all humans were born with the innate ability to form attachments, and that helps us to survive.



They give our species an 'adaptive advantage' making us more likely to survive. This is because if an infant has an attachment to a caregiver, they are kept safe, given food and kept warm.


Social releasers

These social releasers unlock the innate tendency of adults to care for them. These social releasers are both physical and behavioural.


Critical period

Babies have to form an attachment with their caregiver during a critical period. Between 7 months and 2 1/2 years old. Bowlby said if this didn't happen, or if the attachment was broken before 3 years of age, the child would be damaged for life- socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically.



infants have an innate tendency to form an attachment to one key person- usually the mother. Bowlby said the child would be damaged for life if this didn't happen.


Internal working model

Through the monotropy attachment, the infant would form an internal working model. This is a special model or template for other attachments. All the child's future relationships will be based on the relationship with the mother.


Support for social releasers

Brazelton et al observed mothers and babies during their interactions , reporting the existence of interactional synchrony. Then extended the study from observations to an experiment. Primary attachment figures were instructed to ignore their babies signals (social releasers). The babies initially showed some distress but when ignored for a long time some responded by curling up and lying motionless. The fact that the children responded supports Bowlby’s ideas about the significance of infant social behaviour in eliciting caregiving.


Strange situation

A controlled observation designed to test infant attachment security. Infants are assessed on their response to playing in an unfamiliar room, being left alone, left with a stranger and being reunited with a caregiver.


Secure attachment

Generally thought of as the most desireable attachment type, associated with psychologically healthy outcomes. In the strange situation this is shown by moderate stranger anxiety and ease of comfort at reunion.


Insecure-avoidant attachment

An attachment type characterised by low anxiety but weak attachment. This is shown by low stranger and separation anxiety and little response to reunion.


Insecure-resistant attachment

An attachment type characterised by strong attachment and high anxiety. This is shown by high levels of stranger and separation anxiety and resistance to be comforted at reunion.


Van Ijzendoorn

Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg conducted a study to look at the proportions of secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant attachments across a range of countries. The researchers located 32 studies of attachment where the Strange Situation had been used to investigate the proportions of children with different attachment types. These 32 studies were conducted in 8 different countries; 15 were in the USA. Overall the 32 studies yielded results for 1,990 children. The data for these studies were meta-analysed, with results being combined and weighed for sample size. There was a wide variation between the proportion of attachment types in different studies. In all countries, secure attachment was the most common classification. However, the proportion varied from 75% in the UK to 50% in China. Insecure-resistant was overall the least common type although the proportions ranged between 3% in the UK to around 30% in Israel. Insecure-avoidant attachments were observed most commonly in Germany and least commonly in Japan. An interesting finding was that variations within the same country were actually 150% greater than those between countries.


Bowlby: maternal deprivation.

The emotional and intellectual consequences of separation between a child and their mother or mother substitute.


Effects on development.

Intellectual development - One way in which maternal deprivation affects children’s development is their intellectual development. Bowlby believed that if children were deprived of maternal care for too long during the critical period they would suffer delayed intellectual development, characterised by abnormally low IQ. (Goldfarb)
Emotional development - A second major way in which being deprived of a mother
figure’s emotional care affects children is in their emotional development. Bowlby identified affectionless psychopathy as the inability to experience guilt or strong emotion for others. This prevents the person developing normal relationships and is associated with criminality. Affectionless psychopaths cannot appreciate the feelings of victims and therefore lack remorse for their actions.


44 theives

Examine the link between affectionless psychopathy and maternal deprivation.
Consisted of 44 criminal teenagers all of which were accused of stealing. All of the teenagers were interviewed for signs of affectionless psychopathy. Their families were also interviewed in order to establish whether the teenagers had prolonged early separations from their mothers. A control group of non-criminal but still emotionally disturbed young people was set up to see how often maternal separation/deprivation occured with the children that were not thieves.
Bowlby found that 14 of the 44 teenagers could be categorised as affectionless psychopaths. Out of this 14, 12 had experienced prolonged separation from their mothers within the critical period of their life. In contrast only five of the remaining 30 teenagers had experienced separations.
It was concluded that prolonged early separation/deprivation caused affectionless psychopathy.


Romanian orphans

Romania’s orphanage problem began under the communist rule of Nicolae Ceausescu who banned abortion and denied access to contraception at a time of severe time of severe food and energy shortages. Many Romanians abandoned their newborn children, leaving thousands to suffer at underfunded, state-run orphanages. The children were fed, clothed and kept warm, but the vast majority had never experienced any form of sensitive care on an emotional level. A number of the orphans were adopted by Western families



The effects of living in an institutional setting. Institution refers to the place like a hospital or
orphanage where children live for a long,continuous period of time. There is often little emotional care provided.