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Chapter 12251

PSYC 251 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12251: Stepfamily, Infant Mortality, Behaviorism

Course Code
PSYC 251
Valerie Ann Kuhlmeier

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Attachment theory= proposed by John Bowlby
His initial ideas were influenced by 3 sources:
1. The mystery of the high death rates of infants staying in hospitals & orphanages
2. Ethological research conducted by Konrad Lorenz & colleagues on imprinting in birds
3. Research with primates by harry harlow on “mother love”- looking for the roots of an infant
monkey’s love for its mother
ATTACHMENT: close emotional relationship exhibited by a child toward a caregiver expressed by
maintaining physical proximity, stress upon separation & relief f stress upon reunion
Hospitals & Orphanages: sources of instant grief & death?
-death rates for infants in 1st year exceeded 50% attributed to unsanitary conditions
-to reduce infections… they minimized contact between parents, staff & infants- meaning children were
devoid of social contact extreme emotional distress despite sanitary conditions
Connection between psychological isolation & elevated death rates + emotional wasting
Rene Spitz: compared development of 2 groups
-infants raised by their own mothers & infants raised from 3months of life by overworked nursery staff
** motor, social, & intellectual development, & mortality- remarkable differences
Mother-raised: developed into socially competent toddlers
Staff-raised: significant signs of impairment for all aspects of psychological development
5 year period: no mother-raised infants died, 37% staff-raised infants died over 2 year period
HOSPITALISM: almost irreversible & deathly syndrome in kids who were separated from their mothers
or other significant caregivers for longer periods than 5 months during 1st year of life
Lorenz- imprinting on birds: attachment important for other species!
-shortly after hatching, precocial birds followed their mothers, keeping as near to them as possible, thus
increasing chances of survival
-limited time in which imprinting could occur (critical period) & occurred almost automatically
Immature features trigger caretaking behaviours
:head larger than body, forehead large, large eyes, rounded cheeks, flat nose, short limbs
adults find this combo appealing or CUTE, more apt to express interest in caring for younger
looking children than older
Hormonal influence on perceptions of infant cuteness?
-premenopausal women (19-26) more sensitive to infant cuteness prepare for parenthood

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John Bowlby: several hypotheses about “attachment
1. Main function of early infant-mother links is SURVIVAL
-protection from predators is by far most likely function of attachment behaviour
2. These links are esp. significant in early life when infants are immature & helpless and are
triggered in adults by some infantile features of babies
3. Not all early close relationships in other species qualify as attachment
-like some birds: automatic, triggered @ birth (imprinting), do not imply development of any
caregiver recognition &/or relationship (like humans need)
Theory Description
Psychoanalytic theory: I love you because you feed me” SIGMUND FREUD
Learning theory: “Rewards lead to love”
Cognitive developmental theory: “To love you I must know you”
Ethological (evolutionary) theory: Perhaps I was born to love”
Harlow experiments: separated infant monkeys from mothers shortly after birth & raised them with
surrogate or substitute inanimate “mothers”
Some raised in cage w. 2 surrogate mothers ( 1 a wire cylinder which fed the monkey, 1 covered
in cloth & didn’t feed infant)
-quickly learned to feed from wire, however spent an inordinate amount of time clinging to
cloth monkey
When frightened, would run to cloth monkey
Showed a preference for contact comfort over food
Something more complex than feeding was responsible for establishing attachment
Suggested that food & love were 2 independent primary needs that had to be fulfilled in order
for development to proceed normally (though the 2 are obviously related)
Creature comfort alone is not enough to raise a normal monkey- social relationships are vital
(with mother & peers)
John B Watson- radical behaviourist: proposed modern science could provide the means of rearing
children better than tradition or instinct of mothers
-believed parental love & affection were unnecessary for proper development & were handicaps for
raising a child to become a competent adult
-too much love would make a kid overly dependent on the approval of others & social invalid

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Concept of Attachment
What is the difference between a 3 month old & a 8 month old?
@ 3 months, baby will not yet be attached to their mother- you can hold the baby and the
mother can leave the room without the baby fussing
@ 8 months, baby will become distressed if mom moves out of sight, will always check that
mom is in sight, and will crawl closer to her if she moves baby is now attached
-feels uncomfortable exploring the environment & objects when mom is not near
-separation distress & in presence of unfamiliar people
Evolutionary tie?? Bowlby believed that infant’s attachment had substantial survival value
-protected them from predators such as saber toothed tigers & from fellow humans such as
stepparents & co-wives
Attachment is what infants feel towards their mother- NOT VICE VERSA- the attractions moms
feel toward their infants in called BONDING
*not established @ birth, but develops gradually
Birth: parents are responsive to infant’s cries, coos, smiles, movements & infants in turn respond in turn
to their parent’s attention
-interactions during feeding & diaper change serve as basis for later social relationships
1. PREATTACHMENT (asocial): birth- 6 weeks
Indiscriminate social responsiveness
Show interest in faces & voices- but don’t distinguish among them
2. INDISCRIMINATE ATTACHMENT (attachment-in-the-making): 6 weeks- 6/8 months
Babies obviously enjoy human company
Infants smile & babble @ parents/caregivers, but also will respond positively to mostly all
normal acting people
No distress @ presence of strangers or separation from primary caregiver
3. SPECIFIC ATTACHMENT (clear-cut attachment):6-8 months to 18-24 months
Infants show clear cut interest in their primary caregiver (usually mothers)
React with distress when mothers leave them- particularly with an unfamiliar person
4. RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP: 18-24 months and on
Reflects a child’s increasing ability to understand their caregivers behaviours and needs
Show a more balanced, 2-way relationship with their caregivers
More readily establish new attachments beyond the earliest ones
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