Development of Self & Social Cognition February 21 , 2013
What is meant by the term attachment?
- Close emotional relationship that is shared between 2 people, which is characterized by mutual affection and the
desire to maintain closeness.
- We form strong bonds with people who we rely on for protection, comfort and support.
- Can also be used to describe romantic relationships.
Broadly speaking, how is secure attachment believed to arise and with what results? How does insecure
attachment arise, and with what corresponding results?
- Secure attachment- Forms when we interact with attachment figures who are available in times of need and are
sensitive and responsive to our calls of need and support.
- Secure attachment results in: the most optimal functioning of attachement system, promotes an inner sense of
security( they believe others will be helpful when called upon, can explore the environment curiously and
confidently), and it builds confidence in support seeking as a stress-regulation strategy (because they can go to
others when upset, and they have people to soothe and comfort them when in distress.
- Insecure attachment- when people are unavailable and rejecting when someone goes to them in times of need.
- Results from insecure attachment-it undermines your own sense of security as it leaves you with holes in your
security walls, alternative affect regulation strategies can develop- such as insecure/anxious/avoidant attachment
develop, and self-related doubts/emotional problems increase.
Briefly describe the structure of the Strange Situation (SSn) in the measurement of attachment.
- The premise is that you stress the baby out and then after the stress you see if the soothed baby explores out.
- Setting: naturalistic caregiver/infant interactions in the presence of toys (to see if infant uses parent as a
- Brief separations and encounters with strangers (=stress)
- Reunion episodes (to see if parent is sensitive & responsive, and infant is comforted, then continues to
1)Parent and baby enter playroom, 2) Parents sits while baby plays (parent as secure base), 3)Stranger enters and talks
to parent (stranger anxiety) 4) Parent leaves (separation anxiety) 5) Parent returns and offers comfort; stranger leaves
(reunion behavior) 6) Parent leaves (separation anxiety) 7) Stranger returns and offers comfort (ability to be soothed by
stranger) 8)Parent returns and offers comfort (reunion behavior) Describe the measurement of attachment as involving two basic aspects. Describe these and how they fit with
assessment in the SSn.
1) Secure base- infant uses the parent as a base for explorations. You know that someone will be there if you need
them. The baby explores in the presence of their attachment figure. This is assessed when the parent sits while the
baby plays. If the baby plays and explores while parent is there they have a secure base.
2) Safe haven- to see if the infant has someone that is comforting them and they drive comfort from them. ii) Brief
separations and encounters with strangers (=stress); iii) reunion episodes (to see if infant is comforted by parent &
derives comfort)-Reunion especially of interest in determining attachment style
Describe the four categories of parent-child attachment.
- Secure (65%): explores when with mother; may be upset upon separation; greets mother warmly upon return;
if distressed will seek comfort from mother
- Resistant (10%): explore little; distressed upon separation; become very distressed upon mother‟s departure;
ambivalent ( I want you there but I‟m mad you left me- but I need you) upon her return
- Avoidant (20%): show little distress upon separation and may ignore mother even when she tries to gain
attention; often sociable with strangers but also occasionally ignore them (they often get more distressed-
they ramp up the distress to try to get more attention, than the crying clingy babies).
- Disorganized/disoriented (5-10%): most stressed by SSn; reflects the lack of a consistent secondary strategy -
approach-avoidance confusion (e.g., move closer then abruptly move away). Uniequally there are “Odd”
behaviors (fearful, freeze, curlup = trauma behaviors).
What is interactional synchrony?
- Synchornized routines- when the mom and the infant (3,4,6 months of age), “dance” around each others
behaviour. When they mimick each others behaviour it is predictive of later secure attachment.
- Occurs if caregiver: provides playful stimulation, carefully attends to infant‟s states, Attributes intentions
(“mind”) to the infant – insightfulness, avoids “intrusion” -intrusion- secure parents will follow what the baby
is doing instead of forcing them to play with what they want.
Secure based scriptedness? Story must have a setting, crises, signals of distress and if attachment figure is responsive and soothes the victims pain, then
the individual has a secure base
To assess the question separate it into 1. Signals of distress- cries in prescene of someone, 2. Responsiveness – do the
signals of distress get perceived? 3. Is the victim soothed?
Does the story present a character as having undergone a crisis and most importantly does she signal to her partner that
he/she needs soothing. Finally, the resolution... is she indeed soothed?
7. These are the very best examples of secure base content in the narrative. There is a rich interplay
between the two principle characters. There is a great deal of attention to the psychological state of
the other, and the “secure base” is very responsive to that psychological state. Important to the secure
base script is the resolution of the problem/distress with a return to normalcy.
6. These narratives fall short of the richness of secure base content that is evidenced in stories
ranked “7”. Nonetheless, these stories to contain a reasonable amount of secure base content.
5. These narratives have a medium amount of secure base content, but not as much elaboration as
those that are ranked “7” or “6”.
4. These narratives have some secure base content, but not very much. Thus, they are weak on
secure base content, but there is no odd content contained in the story either.
3. These narratives seem mostly event-related stories, in which what is happening is presented,
with very little commentary on the give and take between with the characters, or on the
psychological content of the story.
2. These are event-related as well, but so brief as to seem disjointed. Also included in this
category are narratives that contain some odd content that is inconsistent with a secure base script.
The intrusion of this content however is not as consistent or pervasive as the narratives that are
1. These narratives are theme-based variations that come across as quite peculiar interpretations
of the implied story line. Not only is the secure base script not recognized, but a quite different
script is in its place. The narratives can be quite detailed, with content generated consistent with
the odd interpretation of the story line. These are not that common.
Narratives that have significant “odd” content, but fall short of a complete theme-based variation
also receive a “1.
What is “transference”? The term was used by Freud to explain what clinical observation? Transference- inappropriate redirection of feelings from one person to another. the redirection of feelings and
desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object. This term was
used to explain the clinical observation that freud saw. He noticed people were responding to him as if he was
the patient‟s father or other person with whom they have difficulty with. we see current relationship through
the lens of our early attachment relationships
Bowlby prefered the term “internal working model.” Explain the phrase.
Cognitive respresentations (internal schemas and models) of self, others and relationships that infants
construct from their interactions with caregivers. Working implies that these schemas are able and change
Where Freud would have used the term “mental representation”, contemporary psychology is more likely to use
the term “schema.” What is meant by schematic processing?
Schemas are organized bodies of information that guide our perceptions and behavior. describes an organized
pattern of thought or behavior. It can also be described as a mental structure of preconceived ideas, a
framework representing some aspect of the world, or a system of organizing and perceiving new information.
Schemata influence attention and the absorption of new knowledge: people are more likely to notice things
that fit into their schema, while re-interpreting contradictions to the schema as exceptions or distorting them
to fit. Schemata have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information.
Describe ___ (3 of the 6 given) risk factors for insecure attachment. 1. Insensitive parenting
Increases with health-related, legal or financial problems
2. Unhappy marriages
Unhappy marriages prior to the child being born
Less sensitive caregivers
Less positive attitude to baby and parenting role
Less secure attachment
Happy marriages support one another‟s parenting efforts with difficult infant
3. “At risk” babies
“At risk” babies who are sluggish and easily irritable
Nonsynchronous interactions unless parents are happily married
4. Depressed mothers
Depressed mothers ignore babies signals & fail to establish synchronous relationships
Infants become angry and may soon match symptoms of parent
5. Parents who felt unloved, neglected or abused.
Parents who felt unloved, neglected or abused
Vow to do better but unrealistic in their expectations
Irritable & fussy babies are often perceived as rejecting or punishing
6. Unplanned & unwanted pregnancies
o More frequently hospitalized
o Poorer in school & academics
o Less stable family life
o Poorer peer relationships
o More irritable and antisocial behaviour
o Less marital & job satisfaction
o Mental health issues
Provide ___ (3 of the 5 given) reasons why attachment can not be reduced to temperament.
Temperament influences but attachment can‟t be reduced to temperament:
maternal attachment is unrelated to paternal attachment
parental training of moms with difficult children = secure attachment
maternal problems (illness, depression, life stressors) = insensitivity & insecure attachment child problems (prematurity, illness) did not predict attachment
Twin studies: low concordance rates
Briefly describe an integrative theory of temperament and attachment.
Integrative theory- caregiving characteristics predictors in/security, but temperament predicts the type of
moms of secure infants display a lot of patience and positive affect, adapt caregiving to
fearful (inhibited) -> anxious attachment
fearless (uninhibited) -> avoidant attachment
Be able to briefly describe each of the four attachment styles (see last slide below)
Secue: It is easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on them and
having them depend on me. I don‟t worry about being alone or having others not accept me.
Preoccupied/Anxious: I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others
are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I
sometimes worry that others don‟t value me as much as I value them.
Dismissing/Avoidant: I am comfortable without close emotional relationships. It is very important to me to
feel independent and self-sufficient, and I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me.
Fearful: I am uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it
difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to
become too close to others.
Describe two of the core questions in the AAI. What does the AAI assess? There is an analogous logic
[comparableness] in assessing parent-child attachment in the SSn, and assessing adult attachment on the AAI.
Discuss [for secure attachment] in terms of the two core attachment concepts. AAI Core Questions
Core Question 1:
Describe your relationship with your parents as a young child. Start from as far back as you can remember.
Choose 5 adjectives that describe your relationship with your mother and father. You said she was…. Are
there any memories that come to mind with her being… (discrepancies/coherence)
Are there any memories or incidents that come to mind with respect to them being this way?
Core Question 2:
To whom are you closest? Why isn‟t there this feeling with one parent? ( secure base)
What did you do when you were upset as a child? ( safe haven)
Seeks to assess narrative coherence = HOW you talk about your past is more important than the actual quality
(difficulty) in one‟s past history. That is, your capacity to tell a coherent story about your parent-child relations.
- Secure adults are able to explore the positive and negative memories of past events along with their accompanying
emotions, able to be objective in their recollections of the past, value relationships, view relationships as
formative, and enjoy satisfying interpersonal relationships.
Parent-infant.Interpersonal attachment relationship
Exploration of external world from an external secure base (parent)
In face of stressor, return to secure base (parent) for soothing [safe haven]
Adult. Intrapsychic & interpersonal attachment (“attachment to oneself”)
Exploration of internal world, of one‟s internal representations of self, other, and relation between the two (internal
In face of stressor, return to oneself as secure base for self-soothing, but ALSO to significant others who soothe us
[able to be dependent
adult forms of attachment (secure, dismissive, preoccupied and unresolved) correlate with child attachment forms
(secure, avoidant, resistant and disorganized). Childhood attachment uses secure base and safe haven as the maternal
unit, but in the adult, you act as your own secure base and safe haven, but can also make others your secure bases. Ultimately you are comfortable exploring other relationships and social situations if you are securely attached, and you
can also return inwards to yourself for reflection (but not necesarily unhealthy dwelling) when you are stressed, acting
as your own safe haven.
Describe each of the four attachment categories on the AAI.
- Avoidant i. Dismiss themselves from their source of distress, discount the importance of early experiences on
present functioning, fewer reported memories, ii. Suppress personal deficiencies and minimize di