PSYCH – Week 18 Online Readings
Week 18: Self and Others: Social Development
Focus Question: What factors influence our social development?
Introduction – Being a Role Model
How do factors like role models, parent-child interactions, sex, gender, and friendship
influence social development?
- Social environments play a tremendous role in how we develop
- Much of what we learn about how to exist in our social world is through
observation and imitation of other people.
- Early in life, our parents are our social world, but as we get older our influences
expand to teachers, caregivers, and then friends.
The Social Brain
- Social brain hypothesis was put together to explain the evolution of intelligence.
According to this hypothesis, the reason species like humans, chimps and
dolphins have developed brains so large and metabolically demanding is to meet
the cognitive demands of social living. Social animals aren’t just in a struggle
with their environment to survive, they also compete for interpersonal attention
- In social species, the individals that outsmart the others have the greatest ability to
survive and mate. Greater cognitive abilities will be selected…eventually larger
and larger brains become the norm of population.
- Induction most responsible for empathetic moral development:
- Inductive discipline: Guiding behaviour introducing appropriate limits and
setting up reasonable consequences while also explaining why. Baumrind
- Majority of caregivers fit into four parenting styles (Baumrind).
o Authoratative parents are highly demanding of their children and highly
responsive to them. They are unlikely to physically discipline their
children and will more often explain the reasons behind the rules they
have laid out for them.
o Authoritarian parents are highly demanding of their children, inflexible
about deviations from expected behaviour, and less responsive to their
children’s needs. They tend to discipline using threats and punishment and
are more likely to be physical.
o Permissive parents place very few demands on their children but are
highly responsive to them. They believe children learn best on their own,
without structure imposed on them by adults.
o RejectingNeglectful parents are disengaged from their children and are
neither demanding of them nor responsive to them. The do not set limits
for their children, don’t monitor their activities, and may discourage them
Children of permissive often have difficulty controlling impulses
parents difficulty acting responsibly
perform badly in school
react more intensely to conflict situations
Children of rejecting lower perceptions of themselves, less competent
neglectful parents may be antisocial, internalize problems
lead to depression, social difficulties, risky sex behaviour
Children of authoritative socially competent, selfconfident, do well in school
parents report feeling supported by parents
better self regulation and quick to adapt to new situations
Children of authoritarian may be unhappy and lack social competence.
parents conform well to standards and expectations but lack selfconfidence
may look for guidance from authority figures
use of physical disciple associated with anxiety/aggression
Teaching and Learning
- Teacher models > Learner observes > Learner improves
Parenting in NonHuman Species
- Meerkats and the scorpions: based on the pups’ calls, scorpions were delivered to
them so that they could learn how to deal with their prey.
- Rats and nurturing: differences in the amount of maternal licking/grooming and in
nursing styles changed pups’ hormonal stress responses, fear responses, and
adaptability to new environments.
- Geese imprint on the first thing that moves after birth. Imprinting: A rapid form of learning, typically occurring in a restricted time window
after birth, that allows an animal to recognize another animal, person, or thing as an
object to be emulated and followed.
A Secure Base
Attachment: Social and emotional bond between infant and caregiver that spans both
time and space.
Although human infants do not imprint at birth the way other species do, Bowlby
was convinced that they did form an evolutionary specified and important bond with their
caregivers. The mental health of a young child depends on it.
The bonding process was called attachment, and it is suggested that infants and young
children come to view their primary caregivers as a secure base from which they can
safely venture out to explore their environment.
The attachment bond is formed in four stages according to Bowlby:
1) Preattachment – begins at birth – 6 weeks of age. Infants remain in close contact
with caregivers, reliant on them for food, protection and comfort. During this
time, infants do not display signs of distress when left in the care of someone who
isn’t a primary caregiver.
2) Attachmentinthemaking – begins 6 weeks – 68 months of age. Infants begin to
treat people differently, showing more preferential treatment to familiar people.
They may become wary of or nervous around unfamiliar people, animals, or
objects. During this time, infants form expectations for their parentchild
3) Clearcutattachment – 68 months – 18 months. Infants actively seek comfort
from their caregivers. At this point, caregivers truly become a secure base for the
infant. Infants here may start to display separation anxiety, showing signs of
extreme distress when separated from their caregivers.
4) Reciprocal Relationship phase – begins 1824 months and is final stage. As
children grow both more mobile and more competent in their actions, they will
begin to become comfortable spending increasing amounts of time separated from
their caregivers. The relationship between child and caregivers at this point
becomes more reciprocal, in that it relies on all parties to take an active role in
maintaining it. For example, caregivers and young children will engage in
separate activities but may spontaneously interrupt those activities to check in
with each other. Monkeys
- Harlow tested Bowlby’s theory of attachment by performing experiments with
infant rhesus macaque monkeys. The alternative theory at the time was ‘drive
reduction theory’, which theorized that infants cry for their caregivers to satisfy
their physiological drives, like hunger.
- Harlow found, surprisingly, that the infants preferred a cloth mother that did
nothing for them over a wire mother that could provide food. The need for
comfort was so strong that it was called ‘contact comfort’
- The cloth mother became their secure base, though they did not grow up with
- Harlow’s unethical experiments demonstrated the existence of animal emotions,
as well as the importance of the sense of touch and contact comfort in developing
The Strange Situation
- Unfamiliar room for caregiver and infant, experimenter observes the extent to
which the infant will explore. Then stranger enters, etc. Caregiver leaves, comes
back, infants reactions are gauged.
- Analyzing attachment
o Secure attachment – infants react positively to strangers while a caregiver
is present but become unhappy when the caregiver leaves. They are
unlikely to be comforted by the stranger but become calm when caregiver
returns. They demonstrate ‘secure base’ behaviour, freely exploring while
using their caregiver as a base.
o InsecureResistant attachment – infants uncomfortable in strange situation;
stay close to caregiver, appearing nervous throughout. Very upset when
caregiver leaves but are not comforted when they return. Seek contact and
comfort upon caregivers return, crying and struggling against being held.
Do not resume play after return.
o Disorganized/Disoriented attachment – Not among original styles
proposed by Ainsworth, but became necessary to categorize data. Children
with this attachment style do not react to the strange situation in any
standard way, behaviour is often contradictory. Infant may scream when
caregiver is gone but silently avoid them when they return, or approach
without looking at them. These infants seem to want to approach the
caregiver but also fear caregiver’s reactions…
o InsecureAvoidant attachment – Infants do not have a solid or positive
relationship with caregiver. They either pay no attention or avoid caregiver
during strange situation. May not get upset if caregiver absent, but if upset
can be comforted by stranger. Unlikely to respond positively to the
caregiver’s return and may avoid them entirely.
- Although parenting style affects attachment, parenting is not the only factor in
creating attachment. Most parents show a mixture of styles, and in addition the
child’s temperament, the household or cultural environment, and other
environmental factors all affect how the child behaves. The WellTempered Child
- Temperament – each infant’s individual pattern of behaviours and emotional
reactions. Thomas and Chess defined temperament using scores on traits:
o Activity level – amount of movement made by the infant
o Rhythmicity – predictability of the infant’s biological rhythms, such as
sleep patterns or eating.
o Approach/withdrawal – How infant responds to unfamiliar stimuli
o Threshold or responsiveness – intensity required from a stimulus to elicit a
response from the infant.
o Intensity of reaction – level at which the infant will respond to these
o Attention span – relative amount of time spent on an activity once it has
o Distractibility – how much a new stimulus interrupts or alters the infant’s
o Adaptability – how easily the infant adapts to changes in situation
o Quality of mood – relative amounts of happy or unhappy behaviours that
the infant exhibits.
- Three Basic Temperament Types (not all babies fit into them, however)
o Easy Baby – playful, exhibits regular biological rhythms, calm and
o Difficult baby – irregular in biological rhythms, slow to adjust to new
circumstances, can react with intense negativity to novel stimuli
o Slowtowarmup baby – low activity level and can seem difficult at first,
but eventually warms to people and situations after initially reacting to