Attachment 16-marker Plans (AQA A Level Psychology)


AQA A Level Psychology- Attachment 16 mark question plans for each topic. While technically created for A Level 16 mark questions, this note involves all information for all topics, so is also useful for AS Level 12 markers.
Grace Fawcitt
Note by Grace Fawcitt, updated more than 1 year ago
Grace Fawcitt
Created by Grace Fawcitt about 6 years ago

Resource summary

Page 1

Caregiver-infant interactions Outline  Social interactions between a caregiver and infant affects  the development of the attachment Reciprocity From birth: babies and caregiver spend time having intense pleasurable interactions. Babies have 'alert phases' when they're ready to interact. Caregivers pick up on these 2/3s of the time (Feldman and Eidelman, 2007) From 3 months: more frequent interactions and close attention to verbal and facial signals (Feldman, 2007) Reciprocity= interactions which include both the caregiver and infant responding to the other and eliciting a response. Babies therefore play an active role in their childhood interactions  Interactional synchrony  When a caregiver and infant's behaviour mirrors each other.  Meltzoff and Moore (1977) observed IS as early as 2 weeks - an adult displayed one of three facial expressions or one of three distinctive gestures. The child's response was filmed and observed by multiple researchers. An association was found between the adult's gesture/facial expression and the child's reaction  Isabella (1989) observed 30 mothers and infants together and assessed the degree of synchrony as well as the quality of attachment. High levels of sychrony were associated with better attachment Discuss Difficult to understand infants in observations- the studies observe hand movements and changes in expression, so we don't know what they're thinking, and whether it is conscious or not. Therefore the interactions may or may not have special significance. Fine detail in controlled observations- observations are filmed from multiple angles so can be analysed in great depth. Babies also don't know/care that they're being filmed, so act naturally- good validity. Don't know the purpose of the interactions- Feldman (2012) highlighted that both IS and reciprocity only describe behaviours, but not why these actions are performed.   Attachment figures/ role of the father Outline Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found that most babies became attached to the mother at 7 months, and in the following weeks, formed secondary attachments, e.g. to the father. In 75% of the infants studied, at 18 months they had an attachment to the father, seen by protesting when he walked away.  Grossman (2002) carried out a longitudinal study on the parents' role on a child's development of attachment into their teens. The quality of attachment to the mother affected children's attachments in adolescence, suggesting the father is less important. However, the quality of the father's play was related to adolescent attachments, suggesting fathers play a different role in attachment- play and stimulation rather than nurturing Fathers can be the primary caregivers, taking on the nurturing role of the mothers. Field (1978) filmed 4 month old babies face to face with primary caregiver mothers, secondary caregiver fathers, and primary caregiver fathers. Primary caregiver fathers spent more time imitating, smiling and holding the babies compared to secondary caregiver fathers. The key to attachment is therefore not gender but responsiveness.  Discuss  Inconsistent findings on father's role- research into fathers is confounding as different researchers have different research questions- some interested in fathers as secondary carers, with others interested in fathers as primary carers.The former find that men behave differently to mothers, while the latter sees them as the same. Therefore their role is still unclear. Children without fathers- some children growing up with single mothers or same-sex parents don't develop any differently to having two heterosexual parents. This suggests the father is unimportant.  Fathers don't usually become primary caregivers- this may be due to gender stereotypes of nurturing being seen as feminine, or because of the female hormone oestrogen, which makes women genetically pre-disposed to nurturing.    Schaffer's stages of attachment  Outline Schaffer and Emerson (1964) researched the development of early attachments, especially when they develop, their emotional intensity, and who they're directed to.  They studied 60 babies- 31 boys and 29 girls- from Glasgow and working class families. The babies were visited at home once a month for the first year, and then once again at 18 months. The mothers were interviewed about how the children protested to 7 different types of separation and stranger anxiety e.g. mother leaving the room, stranger entering. Between 25-32 weeks , 50% of the babies showed signs of separation anxiety towards a particular adult. This attachment was typically directed at the caregiver who was most interactive and sensitive to signals, but not necessarily the caregiver they spent the most time with. At 40 weeks, 80% of the babies had a specific attachment and 30% displayed multiple attachments The Four Stages Asocial  stage- first few weeks. The baby's behaviour to humans and non-human objects is much the same, although they prefer familiar adults and are calmer in the presence  of people Indiscriminate stage- 2-7 months. Baby becomes more social, showing a preference for familiar adults. They accept cuddles and comfort from any adult, and don't display stranger/separation anxiety.  Specific attachment- 7 months. The baby starts displaying separation/stranger anxiety from one particular adult (mother in 65% of cases). This is the primary caregiver, and they offer the most interaction and is most responsive to signals.  Multiple attachments- after 7 months. The baby starts forming attachments to other adults they see regularly, such as the father. By a year old, most children had multiple attachments.  Discuss  The study had good external validity- it was carried out in  the families' homes with the mothers doing the observation. Therefore the babies' behaviour wasn't affected by observers or a strange environment.  Longitudinal design- the same children were observed, so the study wasn't hindered by participant variables- good internal validity.  Limited sample characteristics- the sample size was good, but only consisted of families from the same area and class, and the study was done over 50 years ago when child rearing was different. Therefore the findings can't be generalised well. Difficult to study the asocial stage- babies' movements are uncoordinated or non-existent, so there isn't much significant behaviour to observe and analyse.  Conflicting evidence on multiple attachments- some research suggests babies need a specific attachment before multiple attachments develop, however van Ijzendoorn (1993) claimed children formed multiple attachments from the outset. This is usually believed in collectivist cultures.  Difficulty measuring multiple attachments- just because a baby is distressed when an individual leaves, doesn't mean the attachment is 'true'. Babies become distressed when their playmate leaves, but this doesn't indicate attachment.   Animal Studies  Outline- Lorenz Lorenz studied imprinting- attaching to the first moving object seen- in  geese. He divided 12 geese eggs- 6 stayed under the mother, while 6 were put in an incubator and imprinted on Lorenz. When the goslings were mixed, the incubator group still followed Lorenz. Lorenz identified a critical period of around a few hours after hatching in  which the goslings must imprint, or else they wouldn't later in life. Imprinting is also linked to future mate preferences- geese who imprinted on a human sought a human mate.  Discuss- Lorenz Difficult to generalise- Lorenz studied birds, which are very different in attachment to humans Questionable conclusions- Guiton (1966) found that chickens who'd imprinted on a yellow glove initially tried to mate with them, but with experience they learned to prefer other chickens. Outline- Harlow Harlow (1958) studied rhesus monkey babies. Some were paired with a wire-frame mother that dispensed milk, while others were paired with a cloth mother that also dispensed milk. He frightened the monkeys and found that, regardless of which mother dispensed milk, the babies preferred the cloth mother for comfort, suggesting comfort is more important than food.  The monkeys reared with wire mothers were most dysfunctional in adulthood- they bred less, were less sociable and more aggressive, and as mothers, they neglected and even sometimes killed their offspring. Harlow concluded that there was a critical period of 90 days in which the mother figure had to be introduced in order for an attachment to be formed, or else no attachment would form in the future.  Discuss- Harlow Theoretical value- Harlow showed attachment wasn't the result of food being provided, but rather comfort. He also showed the importance of early attachments for later social development. Practical value- helped social workers understand the risk factors in child neglect/abuse so can intervene to prevent it.  Ethical issues- the monkeys suffered greatly as a result of this study. Difficult to generalise- while more similar than geese, monkeys still aren't people Learning theory as an explanation of attachment  Outline Dollard and Miller (1950) suggested attachment formed as a result of classical and operant conditioning, and emphasised the role of food.  Classical conditioning  UCS= food, UCR= pleasure. NS= carer, NR= none. UCS+NS= pleasure. CS= carer, CR= pleasure. The infant learns to associate the caregiver with food and therefore pleasure. Operant conditioning When a baby cries, the caregiver provides comfort (a reward), so the crying is positively reinforced for the baby. The caregiver undergoes negative reinforcement- they provide comfort to the baby to avoid the crying. There's no reward, but they do avoid the unpleasantness of a baby's crying Instinctive drives The learning theory also suggests drive reduction- hunger is a primary drive (an innate biological motivator) so we are motivated to eat to reduce hunger. Sears (1957) said that, as primary caregivers provide food, the primary drive of hunger is generalised to them. Attachment is therefore a secondary drive learned by association between the caregiver and the satisfaction of the primary drive. Discuss Counter evidence from animal studies- Lorenz's geese imprinted before being fed, and Harlow's monkeys preferred comfort over food.  Counter evidence from human studies- Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found that most children formed a primary attachment to the mother even if she didn't do most of the feeding Ignores other factors linked to attachment- it ignores reciprocity and interactional synchrony, and how they affect attachment. If attachment only formed as a result of food, these interactions would be unnecessary Alternative learning theory- Hay and Vespo (1988) suggested attachment forms as a result of parents teaching their children to love them by modelling attachment behaviour e.g. hugging them, and rewarding attachment behaviour.    Bowlby's theory as an explanation of attachment Outline Bowlby's theory suggested an evolutionary theory that attachment was an innate system to aid survival. Imprinting and attachment evolved to ensure infants stay close to their caregivers and avoid harm. Monotropy Bowlby (1958) placed great importance on a child's attachment to one caregiver, saying it was more important than any others. The more time spent with the caregiver, the better. The law of continuity states that the more consistent and predictable the attachment, the better quality of the attachment. The law of accumulated separation states that the effects of every separation add up, so the best 'dose' is therefore 0. Social releasers Babies are born with a set of innate 'cute' behaviours, such as smiling, to encourage attention from adults. These social releasers activate the adult's attachment system, making them love the child. Both mother and child have an innate pre-disposition to become attached and the social releasers are the trigger. There is a critical period of 2 years when the attachment system is active, and if an attachment doesn't form in this time, it is much more difficult in later life. Internal Working Model Mental representation of their relationship with their primary caregivers which serves as a model for what relationships should be like. A child with a loving primary caregiver seeks future relationships like this, and will act like this in future relationships too. They also raise their children in similar ways to their parents. Discuss Mixed evidence for monotropy- Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found some babies formed a specific attachment at the same time as multiple attachments, which contradicts Bowlby's theory that one specific attachment must be formed first. Support for social releasers- Brazelton (1975) observed mother and infant interactions, and reported the existence of IS. Primary caregivers were instructed to ignore their babies' social releasers, and the babies reacted with distress and eventually curled  up, motionless.  Support for internal working model- Bailey (2007) assessed 99 mothers with one year old babies on the quality of their attachment to their own mothers and the quality of the attachment to their own babies. This was done via interviews. Mothers who reported poor attachment to their mothers also had poor attachment to their child.  Monotropy is socially sensitive- suggests mothers could be damaging their children if they go back to work early  Role of temperament- a child's genetically influenced personality could influence later social behaviour, rather than attachment e.g.  some children are more anxious or sociable.      Ainsworth's Strange Situation Outline Assessed quality of attachment, and involved controlled observations in a lab with 2-way mirrors.  In a good attachment: Proximity-  staying fairly close Exploration and secure base- confidence to explore surroundings but treating the caregiver as the 'secure base' Stranger anxiety- displaying moderate anxiety when a stranger approaches Separation anxiety- displaying moderate anxiety when the caregiver leaves Response to reunion- child requires and accepts comfort upon reunion There were 7 conditions to the study:  Child explores - exploration/secure base, proximity Stranger enters- stranger anxiety Caregiver leaves- stranger anxiety and separation anxiety Caregiver returns and stranger leaves- response on reunion and exploration/secure base   Caregiver leaves- separation anxiety Stranger returns- stranger anxiety Caregiver returns- response on reunion Secure attachment (60-75%)- explore but return to secure base, moderate separation and stranger anxiety, require and accept comfort on reunion Insecure avoidant (20-25%)- explore but don't return, no separation or stranger anxiety, don't require comfort on reunion Insecure resistant (3%)- don't explore, very high separation and stranger anxiety, refuse comfort on return   Discuss Validity- attachment is strongly predictive of later development. Secure= success at school and romance, insecure resistant= bully and mental health issues in later life Reliability- good inter-rater reliability as there were multiple observers watching the same children and came to the same conclusions. They used clear behavioural categories and had good control. Culture bound- this only really works for a Western society- Takahashi (1990) noted that Japanese children displayed high levels of separation/stranger anxiety and the mother fussed over the child so much on reunion that it was difficult to observe behaviour. This may be because Japanese mothers are rarely separated from their children. Role of temperament- Kagan (1982) said the study tested temperament (genetically influenced personality) of the children- e.g. outgoing or shy- and therefore temperament is a confounding variable.  More than 3 attachment types- Main and Soloman (1986) pointed out that some children have disorganised attachment (a mixture of insecure resistant and insecure avoidant)   Cultural variations Outline van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg (1988) did a meta-analysis of 32 studies using the Strange Situation across 8 different countries: They found secure attahcment was most common, although at varying degrees; 75% in Britain, 50% in China. Insecure resistant was least common at 3% in Britain and 30% in Israel. Insecure avoidant was observed most in Germany and least in Japan. Variations between results in the same country were 150% greater than those between countries. Simonella (2014) conducted the Strange Situation in Italy on 76 one year olds. 50% were secure, 36% were insecure avoidant. The low level of secure attachment may be because mothers were working long hours and used childcare.  Jin (2012) conducted the Strange Situation in Korea on 87 children.  It had similar proportions in secure and insecure attachment to the other countries, but those children who had insecure attachment usually had insecure resistant, not avoidant, much like Japan. This suggests child rearing styles affect the attachment type.  (Discussion to be completed!)                      

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