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Attachment Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Attachment Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attachment Psychology

2 What is Attachment? The emotional bond between a mother and child
The 1st attachment is usually with the Mother Why develop attachments? Healthy Evolution Forms template for all other relationships https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Lq9Q58_n4

3 Attachment cont There are a number of definitions of attachment
Schaffer (1993)  ‘A close emotional relationship between two persons, characterised by mutual affection and a desire to maintain proximity. Maccoby (1980) Seeking proximity, Separation anxiety, pleasure when reunited

4 Characteristics of attachment
Selective – specific individuals Proximity-seeking What is the reason for proximity-seeking behaviour? Comforting and provides security Lead to ‘separation anxiety’ when parted

5 Why form attachments? Short term and long term
Short term: Ensures survival of offspring Long term: Bowlby (1980) proposed that early attachments provide expectations of the attachments made later in life

6 How do the attachments develop?
Different rules apply to animals and humans Imprinting ( Konrad Lorenz) Example birds forming attachments to the first thing they see upon hatching Proposed that the effects were irreversible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UIU9XH- mUI

7 Criticisms Guiton et al (1966) disagreed with the irreversible nature of imprinting.  They imprinted newly hatched chickens onto yellow rubber gloves (Marigolds if you prefer).  In later life, just as the theory predicts, they did indeed try to mate with the gloves.  However, when they had chance to spend time with others of their own species, they developed a ‘taste’ for mating with these instead.

8 Sensitive Period The Sensitive Period is the idea that there is a time in an infant’s life when it is most likely to form an attachment, However it can continue to form attachments outside this period. Bowlby argued that our need to form attachments was innate and would occur in the sensitive period between the ages of 1 and 3 years.

9 Schaffer and Emerson’s stages of attachment
Schaffer & Emerson and the Glasgow babies (1964) Aim: To find the age at which attachments start and how intense these were Method: They studied 60 babies from a working class area of Glasgow, observing them every four weeks for the first year and then again at 18 months.

10 Schaffer and Emerson They measured strength of attachment by:
Separation anxiety: how distressed the child became when separated from the main caregiver (which suggests an attachment has been formed) and Stranger anxiety: distress shown when the child was left alone with an unfamiliar person (which suggests that the child can recognise familiar and unfamiliar people).

11 Findings The first specific attachment was formed by 50% of infants between 6 months) and 8 months Intensity peaked in the first month following the onset of the first attachment. Multiple attachments began soon after the first attachment had been formed.  By 18 months 31% had five or more attachments, e.g. to grandparents etc.

12 Conclusion: 3 distinct stages
Asocial ( 0-6 weeks) This is short lived.  Attention seeking behaviour such as crying and smiling is not directed at anyone in particular, suggesting attachments could be made with anyone. Indiscriminate attachment ( 6 weeks-7months) Similar in that the child seeks attention from anyone and is happy to receive attention from anyone.  However, preferences are shown to familiar faces that elicit a greater response from the infant

13 Specific ( 7-11 months) Child is primarily attached to the main caregiver.  If they are separated the child becomes distressed and the child is wary of strangers.  Evaluation Since babies were observed in their own homes (a natural environment) we can assume that the study is high in ecological validity; the findings can be generalised to the real world. However, accuracy of data collection by parents who were keeping daily diaries whilst clearly being very busy could be questioned

14 Explanations of attachment
Learning Theory ( Behaviourists) Behaviour is not innate it’s learned Learning can be due to associations being made between different stimuli (classical conditioning) or behaviour can be altered by patterns of reinforcement (reward) and punishment (operant conditioning). 

15 Operant Condition Dollard and Miller (1950) suggested that the attachment was due to drive reduction (due to biological needs) Hunger and cold have a strong motivating affect on the child, driving the child to satisfy its need by eating or seeking warmth.  Obtaining food or warmth results in drive reduction which in itself provides reward for the child. 

16 Operant Condition Hunger and cold (discomfort) are referred to as primary drives and food and warmth are primary reinforcers.  The person supplying the food and warmth (usually the mother) becomes associated with the food and warmth and acts as a secondary reinforcer.  The attachment occurs because the child wants the person providing the food and warmth. 

17 Operant Conditioning Note: When the child is cold and hungry it cries.  This is unpleasant for the mother (punishment) who is likely to feed and cuddle the child.  The child stopping crying acts as a negative reinforcer for the mother (something unpleasant has been taken away).  Negative reinforcers make the mother’s behaviour, feeding and cuddling, more likely in future!

18 Classical Conditioning
This offers a similar but simplified explanation of how food provides attachment.  The child simply associates food and mother together, much as Pavlov’s dogs associated bell and food together.  If you want this in technical terms: Food is an unconditioned stimulus that produces an unconditioned response (pleasure).

19 Classical Conditioning
At the outset, mother is a neutral stimulus who produces no response (pleasure) However, because she is continually paired with the unconditioned stimulus (food) she slowly becomes associated with it until eventually mother alone can produce pleasure. Mother has now become a conditioned stimulus and the pleasure she brings is a conditioned response. (Again think of conditioned as learned whereas unconditioned is something that was there all the time). 

20 Evaluation The behaviourist theory is reductionist because it takes complex human behaviour and breaks it down into simple terms Does not consider the emotional nature of attachment

21 Social Learning theory
This is similar in some respects to learning theory, in that both emphasise the role of reinforcement (an action that is rewarded being more likely to be repeated).  However, SLT emphasises the role of imitation.  Hay and Vespo (1988) suggested that attachments develop because parents teach their children to love them.  This can be achieved in three ways: Modelling: children copy the affectionate behaviour that they see between their parents. Direct instruction: parents teach their children to be affectionate. Social facilitation: parents watch their children and encourage appropriate behaviours

22 Evaluation Durkin (1995) does not believe that SLT can explain the intensity of emotion that the attachment produces. On the plus side, the theory can be said to be influential in that it has stimulated a lot of research into the interactions that take place between parents and their children.


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