Lecture 10: 2013/02/07
Questions of the day:
1) How do psychologists measure attachment in children?
2) What impact does attachment have on later development?
3) Are out current relationships influenced by the kind of attachment we had with our mother (and
father) as infants?
The grand theory of John Bowlby
- Attachment is “A complex instinctually guided behavioral system that has functioned throughout
human evolution to protect infants from predators”
In terms of surviving, being fed, nourished, keeping safe
- Series of things that allow infants to develop attachment
Sucking, grasping reflex, eye contact, smile, response to voice of parents, response to human face
- Attachment is about maintaining proximity to people who make you feel safe/secure
- Secondary proposition: Emotion regulation
Managing negative emotions (anger, fear, etc.) Only way we manage this is attachment with
parents. Through interaction between parents, learn how to sue/cope with negative emotions
Attachment in development
- Normative patterns (At the age of 1, universally all infants form a bond with their parents)
- Failure to attach (less than 1% mostly due to biological problems with child, autism)
- A developmental disorder involving deficits in social interaction, impaired communication, and
restricted interests (fascinated by objects rather than humans)
- “There is from the start an extreme autistic aloneness that, whenever possible, disregards, ignores, and
shuts out anything that comes to the child from the outside.”
- Core symptoms
Deficits in social interaction
Do not initiate/respond to social contact as babies
Do not establish eye contact, odd use of gaze (Even when they look at the face, they tend to
look mouth rather than eyes. However, eyes are the one is needed to communicate emotions)
Severe impairment of verbal and nonverbal communication
Restricted interests Focus on small (non-social details of situation)
Stereotyped and repetitive play
Change of routine results in extreme agitation
- 4-6 cases per 10,000 children
- Males outnumber females 3 to 1
- Biological disorder with strong genetic basis (90% of the variance). Not sure genes
- MZ twins 90%; DZ twin 10%
- 1 sibling increases risk 7%; two siblings 35%
Relation to Emotional development
- Around 8 months, kids become very fearful to strangers and separation. However, this fear is normal
- At this point, you can notice difference between children who are attached.
- Stranger anxiety
- Separation anxiety
- Insecure attachment vs secure attachment
How to assess infant attachment?
- Strange situation for 12-18 months old by Mary Ainsworth
First, child get familiar with the setting and play with mom
Stranger comes in and mom leaves. How distress the child become?
Mom returns, and sees how the child behaves?
Secure attachment (65%): distressful, calm down, reassure
Avoidant attachment (20%): not distressful
Anxious attachment (15%): not calm down, reassure
- Secure: trust, exploration, base
- Insecure: distrust, anxiety, pessimism
- D babies (disorganized attachment style)
Associated with child abuse and child neglect (Extreme family environment) Where do the differences come from?
- 70% of attachment is related to mother’s behavior
- Key study by Ainsworth 1985
Infant with 3 months old (no attachment)
Videotaped mother-infant interaction
Measure whether mother was responsive to crying, affection with holding, saying something
when enter room, and feeding well
After a year, they systematically had all the infants doing strange situation
Coded the infants’attachment style
There was strong relationship between how mother behaved at 3 months and whether child is
The mother who are consistent, sensitive, responsive, attentive, and not interfering or
controlling had kid with securely attached style
It is mother’s parenting behavior that is largely driving attachment process
What developmental outcomes are associated with security of attachment?
- Tracked the kids who had been in strange situation (reliable, v