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Research into the development of attachments Study by Schaffer and Emerson (1964)

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Research into the development of attachments Study by Schaffer and Emerson (1964) The topic of Schaffer and Emerson's research was to observe the development of attachments in infants. They were specifically interested in the age, intensity, and the objects of attachment and the issue of whether there were any individual differences. The research method of the study was conducted by interviewing the children's mothers at every visit. The experimental design of the research was carried out by naturalistic observation. The materials that were used were prams, cots, and chairs. The participants consisted of a sample of sixty infants from working-class homes in Glasgow. The infants were observed every four weeks until they were one year old, and then again at eighteen months. At the start of the investigation, the youngest participant was five weeks and the oldest was twenty-three weeks. All the infants were living at home with both parents; they all had normal births, no major illnesses, and no signs of abnormality. ...read more.


Age of onset-Half of the children showed their first specific attachment between 25 and 32 weeks (6-8 months). Four of the children were slightly younger and six of the children were older than 11 months. Fear of strangers occurred approximately a month later in all children. 2. Intensity-This rose in the first month after attachment behaviour first appeared. It was measured by the strength of separation protest. However, there were large individual differences. Intensely attached infants had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and who offered the child the most interaction. Infants who were weakly attached had mothers who failed to interact. 3. Objects of attachment-After one main attachment was formed, the infants also became attached to other people. By 18 months, 13% were attached to only one person and 31% had five or more attachments, such as the father, grandparent, or older sibling. In 65% of the children, the first attachment was to the mother. ...read more.


In turn, the child would be more confident and would explore the environment. Whereas a child with a weak attachment would be less confident and lees likely to explore the environment. A criticism that has been made of this study is that the idea of stages suggests that early development is 'fixed'- that children automatically go through particular stages, in fact, development is more fluid than this. Although most children do appear to follow this general path of development, the age at which they do varies more than the model suggests. Another criticism of this study is that there are important differences between infants in terms of their attachment behaviour. Some may become more securely attached than others. These criticisms are valid as they are seen as flaws in the study. They are valid strongly as they show not every child forms an attachment with their mother in the same way and they certainly do not follow strict stages as every infant is different and their interaction with their mother is different. Hema Pindolia 16/09/04 ...read more.

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