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Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF The Caregiver-Child Attachment Relationship • Attachment: an emotional bond with a specific person that is enduring across space and time. Usually, attachments are discussed in regard to the relation between infants and specific caregivers, although they can also occur in adulthood • As adults, formerly isolated females had no interest in sex • If they were artificially impregnated, they did not know what to do with their babies • Children’s healthy social and emotional development is rooted in their early social interactions with adults • Attachment Theory • Attachment Theory: theory based on Bowlby’s work that posts that children are biologically predisposed to develop attachments with caregivers as a means of increasing the chances of survival • Bowlby’s Attachment Theory • Bowlby’s theory of attachment was strongly influenced by several key tenets of Freud’s theories, especially the idea that infant’s earliest relationships with their mothers shape their later development • Secure Base: Bowlby’s term fro when an attachment figure’s presence provides an infant or toddler with a sense of security that makes it possible for the infant to explore the environment • The primary caregiver serves as a haven of safety when the infant feels threatened or insecure, and the child derives comfort and pleasure from being near the caregiver • Bowlby proposed the existence of an attachment process between infant and caregiver that is rooted in evolution • Attachment increases the infant’s chance of survival • According to Bowlby, the initial development takes place in four phases: 1. Pre-attachment: (0-6 weeks) In this phase infant produces innate signals (crying) that bring others to their side, and the infant is comforted by the interaction 2. Attachment-in-the-making: (6 weeks to 6-8 months) Infants begin to prefer familiar people. Infants form expectations about hoe their caregivers will respond to their needs and develop trust in them 3. Clear-cut Attachment: (6-8 months to 1.5 years) Infants actively seek contact with their regular caregivers. Happily greet mother, and separation distress when they leave 4. Reciprocal Relationships: (1.5-2 years and on) Toddlers rapidly increase cognitive and language abilities that help them understand their parents feelings and organize their efforts to be near them. • The usual outcome of these phases is an enduring emotional tie uniting the infant and caregiver • Internal working model of attachment, a mental representation of the self, of attachment figures, and of relationships in general • Internal Working Model of Attachment: the child’s mental representation of the self, of attachment figure(s) and of relationships in general that is constructed as a result of experiences with caregivers, The working model guides children’s interactions with caregivers and other people in infancy and at older ages WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF • Bowlby believed that this internal working model guides the individual’s expectations about relationships throughout life • Children’s internal working models of attachment are believed to influence their overall adjustment, social behaviour, and the development of their self-esteem and sense of self • Ainsworth Research • Maryland Ainsworth came to the conclusion that two key measures provide insight into the quality of the infants attachment to the caregiver 1. the extent to which an infant is able to use his or her primary caregiver as a secure base and 2. how the infant reacts to brief separations form and reunions with the caregiver • Measurement of Attachment Security • Strange Situation: a procedure developed by Ainsworth to assess infant’s attachment to their primary caregiver • Extremely useful in understanding the nature and importance of early parent-child relationships Ainsworth discerned three distinct patterns in infants behaviour that seemed to indicate the quality or security of their attachment bond • Secure Attachment: a pattern of attachment in which infants or young children have a high-quality, relatively unambivalent relationship with their attachment figure. • Insecure Attached: a pattern of attachment in which infants or young children have a less positive attachment to their caregiver than do securely attached children. Insecurely attached children can be classified as insecure/resistant, insecure avoidant, or disorganized/disoriented • One type of insecurely attached is classified as insecure/resistant or ambivalent • Insecure/Resistant (Ambivalent) Attachment: a type of insecure attachment in which infants or young children are clingy and stay close to their caregiver rather than exploring their environment. • Insecure/Avoidant Attachment: a type f insecure attachment in which infants or young children seem somewhat indifferent toward their caregiver and may even avoid the caregiver • Subsequent to Ainsworth original research, attachment investigators found that the reactions of a small percentage o children in the Strange Situation did not fit well into any of Ainsworth three categories • Disorganized/Disoriented Attachment: a type of insecure attachment in which infants or young children have no consistent way of coping with the stress of the Strange Situation. Their behaviour is often confused or even contradictory, and they often appear dazed or disoriented • Children’s behaviour in the Strange Situation correlates with attachment scores derived from observing children’s interactions with their mothers over several hours • Parental Attachment Status • Adult Attachment Models: working models of attachment in adulthood that are believed to be based upon adults perceptions of their own childhood experiences - especially their relationships with their parents - and of the influence of these experiences on them as adults WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF • Adults who are rated autonomous or secure, are those whose descriptions are coherent, consistent and relevant to the questions • Dismissing adults often insist that they cannot remember attachment-related interaction with their parents or they minimize the impact that these experiences had on them • Preoccupied adults are intensely focused on their parents and tend to give confused and angry accounts of attachment-related got so angry • Unresolved/disorganized adults appear to be suffering the aftermath of past traumatic experiences of loss or abuse • Cultural Variations in Attachment • Infants’ behaviours in the Strange Situation are similar across numerous cultures • In all these cultures, there are securely attached, insecure/resistant, and insecure/ avoidant infants • Some interesting and important differences in children’s behaviour in the Strange Situation also have been noted in certain other cultures • Japanese infants difference in the types of insecure attachment they displayed • This difference may be due to the fact that Japanese culture exalts the idea of oneness between mother and child, and child-rearing practices • Japanese children may desire more bodily contact and reassurance than do U.S. children and therefore may be more likely to exhibit anger and resistance to their mother after being denied contact with her • It is important to note that how young children react to separations from and reunions with caregivers in the Strange Situation can also be affected by their prior experience with unfamiliar situations and people • Factors Associated with the Security of Children’s Attachment • Differences in attachment patterns is whether the parents of securely attached and insecurely attached children differ in the way they interact with their children • Parental Sensitivity •The most crucial parental factor contributing to the development of a secure attachment is parental sensitivity •Parental Sensitivity: an important factor contributing to the security of an infant’s attachment. Parental sensitivity can be exhibited in a variety of ways, including responsive caregiving when children are distressed or upset and helping children to engage in learning situations by providing just enough, but not too much, guidance and supervision •The mothers of securely attached 1 year olds tend to read their babies signals accurately, responding quickly to the needs of a crying baby and smiling back at a beaming one •The mothers of insecure/resistant infants tend to be inconsistent in their early caregiving •Mothers of insecure/avoidant infants tend to be indifferent and emotionally unavailable, sometimes rejecting their baby’s attempts at physical closeness •Mothers of disorganized/distressed infants sometimes exhibit abusive or frightening behaviour and may be dealing with unresolved loss or trauma themselves WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF •Evidence that parental sensitivity does in fact have a causal effect on infants attachment • Children’s Temperament •Differences in temperament might be expected to influence both the way parents behave with their children and the security of a child’s attachment • Does Security of Attachment Have Long-Term Effects? • Securely attached infants appear to grow up to be better adjusted and more socially skilled than insecurely attached children • Explanation for this may be that children with a secure attachment are more likely to develop positive and constructive internal working models of attachment • Children who experience the sensitive, supportive parenting that is associated with secure attachment are likely to learn that it is acceptable to express emotions in an appropriate way and that emotional communication with others is important • Insecure/avoidant children, whose parents tend to be nonresponsive to their signals of distress, are likely to learn to inhibit emotional expressiveness and to not seek comfort from other people • Secure attachment in infancy even predict positive peer and romantic relationships and emotion health in adolescence • Although securely and insecurely attached children do not differ in terms of intelligence, securely attached children tend to earn higher grades than insecurely attached children and to be more attentive and involved at school • If the parent-child relationship and family circumstances change, the child’s attachment and development are likely to change as well • Child’s early attachment has some effects over times • Although there often is considerable stability in attachment security, there also is evidence that children’s security of attachment can change what as their environment changes Conceptions of the Self • Attachment experiences early in life likely color the sense of self that emerges in infancy • Self: a conceptual system made up of one’s thoughts and attitudes about oneself • The development of the self is important because individuals self-conceptions, appear to influence their overall feelings of well-being and competence • The Development of Conceptions of Self • Children’s sense of self emerges in the early years of life, especially in their interactions with people of importance to them • The Self in Infancy •Infants have a rudimentary sense of self in the first months of life •Infants have a sense of their ability to control objects outside of themselves •A sense of self becomes much more distinct at about 8 months of age, when infants react with separation distress if parted fro their mother, suggesting that they recognize that they and their mother are separate entities •Indications that children view others as beings different from themselves are apparent by age 1 WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF • Infants’ emerging recognition of the self becomes more directly apparent by 18-20 months of age, when many children can look into a mirror and realize that the image they are looking at is themselves • The strength of 2 year olds awareness of self is even more evident in their notorious self-assertion, which has led to the period between 2 and 3 being called the terrible twos • Two-year olds self-awareness is also evident in, and enhanced by their use of language • Parents contribute to the child’s expanding self-image by providing descriptive information about the child, evaluative descriptions of the child, and information about the degree to which the child has met rules and standards • The Self in Childhood • At ages 3-4 children understand themselves in terms of concrete, observable characteristics related to physical attributes, physical activities and abilities, social relationships, and psychological traits • Young children also describe themselves in terms of their preferences and possessions • Their self-evaluations are unrealistically positive • Maintaining positive illusions about themselves is relatively easy for young children because they generally do not compare their performance with that of others and thus do not recognize relative deficits in their abilities • Social Comparison: the process of comparing aspects of one’s own psychological, behavioural, or physical functioning to that of others in order to evaluate oneself • The developmental changes in older children’s conceptions of self reflect cognitive advances in their ability to use higher-order concepts that integrate more specific behavioural features of the self • The preceding self-description also reflects the fact that schoolchildren's self- concepts are increasingly based on others’ evaluations of them, especially those of their peers • Children at this age are vulnerable to low self-esteem if others view them negatively or as less competent than their peers • The Self in Adolescence • Children’s conceptions of self change in fundamental ways across adolescence, due in part to the emergence of abstract thinking during this stage • Young adolescents ability arrive at higher-level, abstract self-descriptions • Particularly notable is the fact that adolescents can conceive of themselves in terms of a variety of selves, depending on the context • Personal Fable: a story that adolescents tell about themselves that involves beliefs in the uniqueness of their own feelings and their immortality • Imaginary Audience: the belief, stemming from adolescent egocentricism, that everyone else is focused on the adolescent’s appearance and behaviour • Adolescents of this age often feel confused and concerned about who they really are • In late adolescence and early adulthood, the individuals conception of self becomes both more integrated and less determined by what others think WEEK 10 - ATTACHMENT TO OTHERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF SELF •Older adolescents conceptions of self frequently reflect internalized personal values, beliefs, and standards •Older adolescents are more concerned with meeting their own standards and with their future self •They have the cognitive capacity to integrate opposites or contradictions in the self that occur in different contexts or at different times •Similarly, they may integrate changes in emotion under the characteristic moody •Whether older adolescents are able to successfully integrate contradictions in themselves likely depends not only on their own cognitive capacities but also on help form parents, teachers, and other people in understanding the complexity of personalities • Identity in Adolescence • As they begin to approach adulthood, adolescents must begin to develop a sense of personal identity that incorporates numerous aspects of self, including their values, their belief systems, th
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