PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Harry Harlow, Scrotum, Reinforcement

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2 Feb 2013
28 January 2013
Humans have gotten as far as we have because we are intensely social animals, we want relationships,
we need to feel like we are loved, and we gain power through connections. This desire for social
relations is present at birth, and is bi-directional, as represented both by “maternal instincts and via
specific behaviours emitted by the infant. Sucking is both for food and for comfort, cuddling is comfort
and seems to signal security (Harlow’s work),
looking is eye to eye contact to initiate
interactions, smiling is the best reward of
parenting (5 weeks) and crying is teaching
parents through negative reinforcement.
Psychologist Harry Harlow discovered that when
socially isolated monkeys were put in a cage
with two artificial mothers, one that was made
of wire and dispensed food and one that was
made of cloth and dispensed no food, they
spent most of their time clinging to the soft
cloth mother despite the fact that the wire
mother was the source of their nourishment.
Konrad Lorenz discovered newly hatched gosling will faithfully follow the first moving object to which it
is exposed. The first moving object a hatchling saw was somehow imprinted on its bird brain as “the
thing I must always stay near.
Psychiatrist John Bowlby sought to understand how human infants form attachments to their
caregivers. He noted that from the moment they are born, goslings waddle after their mothers and
monkeys cling to their mothers’ furry chests because the newborns of both species must stay close to
their caregivers to survive. Human babies have a similar need but use a different strategy; instead, they
do things that cause their caregivers to stay close to them. When a baby cries, gurgles, coos, makes eye
contact, or smiles, most adults reflexively move toward the baby, and Bowlby claimed that this is why
the baby emits these “come hither” signals. Bowlby believed that all of this happens because evolution
has equipped human infants with a social reflex that is every bit as basic as the physical reflexes that
cause them to suck and to grasp. Human infants are predisposed to form an attachment, an emotional
bond, with a primary caregiver.
Humans acquire a great deal of social information from the nonverbal cues provided by others. The
human face is a major source of non-verbal cues and babies attend preferentially to faces almost from
birth. Human faces are very asymmetrical and provide intensive information. Still face experiments
dramatically show how important these cues are (IE: Mother keeping a still face with a baby results in
the baby crying). Infants who are deprived of the opportunity to become attached suffer a variety of
social and emotional deficits. Strange Situation is a behavioral test developed by psychologist Mary
Ainsworth that is used to determine a child’s attachment style. The test involves bringing a child and his
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or her primary caregiver (usually the child’s mother) to a laboratory room and then staging a series of
episodes, including ones in which the primary caregiver briefly leaves the room and then returns.
Secure Attachment (about 60%) is when the caregiver returns, infants who had been distressed
by the caregiver’s absence go to her and are calmed by her proximity, while those who had not
been distressed acknowledge her return with a glance or greeting. Mothers of securely attached
infants tend to be especially sensitive to signs of their child’s emotional state, especially good at
detecting their infant’s “request” for reassurance, and especially responsive to that request
Avoidant Attachment (about 20%) is when they are generally not distressed when their
caregiver leaves the room, and they generally do not acknowledge her when she returns.
Mothers of infants with an avoidant attachment style are typically indifferent to their child’s
need for reassurance and may even reject their attempts at physical closeness (IE: You left me!)
Ambivalent Attachment (about 15%) is when they are almost always distressed when their
caregiver leaves the room, but then they rebuff their caregiver’s attempt to calm them when
she returns, arching their backs and squirming to get away. Mothers of infants with an
ambivalent attachment style tend to respond inconsistently, only sometimes attending to their
infants when they show signs of distress
Disorganized Attachment (about 5% or fewer) is when there is no consistent pattern of
responses when their caregiver leaves or returns
Aspects of attachment styles vary
across cultures. German children
(whose parents tend to foster
independence) are more likely to have
avoidant than ambivalent attachment
styles. Japanese children (whose
mothers typically stay home and do not
leave them in the care of others) are
more likely to have ambivalent than
avoidant attachment styles.
The capacity for attachment may be
innate, but the quality of that
attachment is influenced by the child,
the primary caregiver, and their
Internal Working Model of Relationships is a set of beliefs about the self, the primary caregiver, and the
relationship between them. Infants with different attachment styles have different working models of
relationships. Infants with a secure attachment style act as though they are certain that their primary
caregiver will respond when they feel insecure, infants with an avoidant attachment style act as though
they are certain that their primary caregiver will not respond, and infants with an ambivalent
attachment style act as though they are uncertain about whether their primary caregiver will respond or
not. Infants with a disorganized attachment style seem to be confused about their caregivers, which has
led some psychologists to speculate that this style primarily characterizes children who have been
Temperaments are characteristic patterns of emotional reactivity. Very young children vary in their
tendency toward fearfulness, irritability, activity, positive effect, and other emotional traits (IE: Infants
who react fearfully to novel stimuli such as sudden movements, loud sounds, or unfamiliar people, tend
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