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Outline the development of attachments

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Developmental Psychology - Key Assessment Task a) Outline the development of attachments An attachment is a powerful bond between an infant and its caregiver. Infants form attachments because they are helpless at birth and so need caregivers to provide for and protect them. There are many long term effects of attachments, for example an attachment gives a foundation for emotional relationships e.g. the infant is learning how to form an emotional or "love" relationship. Schaffer and Emerson believed that infants form attachments by three stages, this argument was based on a large scale study of 60 infants in a working class area of Glasgow over 2 years. The first stage of attachment Schaffer and Emerson believed a child to go through happens when they are 0-6 weeks old, this is known as the Asocial Stage and involves the infant smiling and crying but not directing these emotions at individuals. The second stage of attachment is known as Indiscriminate Attachment and happens when the infant is 6 weeks to 7 months old; this involves the child seeking attention from different individuals. The last stage of attachment is Specific Attachments and happens when the infant is 7-11 months old, this stage shows a strong attachment to one individual, with good attachment to others following afterwards. ...read more.


In the early 1940's psychologists had observed that children could be effected if they were separated from their mother for a long period of time, but the extent of suffering hadn't been discovered. In 1944 John Bowlby undertook his own research using clients from the child guidance clinic where he worked to try and show a cause-and-effect relationship between maternal deprivation and emotional maladjustment. He had previously noticed that children who showed inadequate emotional development had often experienced separation or deprivation and he proposed that this could lead to psychological and behavioural problems later on in life. By interviewing children and their families Bowlby was able to build up a record of their early life experiences. From these interviews Bowlby discovered that some of the children had endured early and prolonged separation from their mothers, he also found that some of the children were emotionally maladjusted (their emotional development wasn't normal). Bowlby also diagnosed some of the children with "affectionless psychopathy", a disorder which involves a lack of guilt and remorse. Bowlby took an opportunity sample of 88 children from the child guidance clinic, 44 of these children had been directed to the clinic because they were stealing (these were the "thieves") ...read more.


This wasn't the case with the children who returned to their natural families, possibly because the parents weren't sure they wanted their children back. Bowlby said as part of his hypothesis that it was better for children to go to a bad home than to a good institution because of the possible better emotional care that could occur. Nevertheless this research shows otherwise. However despite the adopted group doing better at home both the adopted group and the children who were returned to their natural parent struggled at school, Hodges and Tizard said that the children had "an insatiable desire for adult attention, and difficulty in forming good relationships with their peer group". It was noticed that the children who had been institutionalised didn't have a special friend or consider other children as a source of emotional support. This study showed that the adopted and restored groups differed in their home lives however they showed comparable behaviour outside of the family. In 1979 Clarke and Clarke put forward a transactional model to explain this: maybe the families' efforts to love them made the difference at home. This proposes that the children's early privation effects their ability to form relationships, but the early effects of institutionalisation can be suppressed by following attachments however there are almost always lasting effects. Natalie Plummer Page 1 09/05/2007 ...read more.

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Response to the question

The candidate here responds very well to the three questions set to them. The first answer appropriately aims to outline (as commanded) a theory on the stages of attachment. Schaffer and Emerson's study into Glaswegian infants and their attachment stages ...

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Response to the question

The candidate here responds very well to the three questions set to them. The first answer appropriately aims to outline (as commanded) a theory on the stages of attachment. Schaffer and Emerson's study into Glaswegian infants and their attachment stages is suitably cited as empirical evidence for the support of the theory they outline in good detail in this question. The second questions asks for a description, so a bit more detail is required than simply an 'Outline" question. The candidate rises to the task well, and goes to great depth when referring to the procedure and results of Ainsworth and Bell's study of the Strange Situation. All facts recorded are accurate - this show a good attention to detail with regard to the study and it's data, and indicates to the examiner a candidate who can easily retain and recite important psychological information. The third question is the only analytical question of the three, and therefore the largest number of marks are weighted here. There is an excellent consideration of the privation attachment argument and how Bowlby's theories relate to it. It comes off as a very perceptive and insightful answer than full understands how the evaluate psychology to great effectiveness.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is excellent. Whilst not as prescriptive as other psychology answers, and therefore not quite as to-the-point, the candidate makes a very well organised and well-reasoned response to consider the research of Bowlby with regard to privation. The answer suggests the candidate has a very good level of knowledge about the topic and this naturally encourages a confident, clear and precise analysis which spans a number of other research studies, showing off the the examiner the candidate's knowledge of a wide range of empirical evidence pertaining to privation and theories of attachment.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is excellent also. From a psychology perspective and an English perspective, everything written here is accurate and appropriately applied. There is no cause for concern with regard to spelling, punctuation or grammar. There is also a correct application of a number of complex psychology-orientated terminology, which lends and air of sophistication and and indication of extensive knowledge about psychology to the examiner.

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