Donette Steele, M.A. / Clinical Psychology

Developmental Psychology - Study Guide - Chapter Four




Slowly Getting Attached to Attachment


Behaviorism; looks only at observable behavior - no love & attachment


In WWII, Important attachment was missing in orphanages, children didn’t thrive


Harry Harlow did his monkey attachment studies



Harlow’s Studies of Infant Monkeys

Attachment Milestones

Attachment Milestones

  Pre-attachment phase - birth to 3 months

              Infants show no signs of attachment.

  The social smile - at 2 months

  Attachment in the making - 4 to 7 months


Infants start to show preference for their primary caregivers.

  Clear-cut (focused) attachment – at 7 months


Signaled by separation anxiety and stranger anxiety


The zone of optimum comfort is about 200 feet


Social referencing - checking for the attachment figure and that person’s reactions


At one year, babies respond to intonation rather than content


By four, the meaning of the words is more important

  A “working-model” of the attachment figure is good enough to comfort by age 3


Attachment Styles


Mary Ainsworth used the stranger situation test


She found distinct attachment styles


Securely attached


Insecurely attached children react in three ways:

Avoidant (indifferent)
Anxious-ambivalent (angry)
Disorganized – most at risk (bizarre)


Attachment Styles

The Attachment Dance

  Are the baby and parent in synchrony?

  Is the parent able to pick up on babies cues?


Are the parents sensitive and properly responsive?


The still face experiment rates child's emotional state / upset and soothing



The Caregiver


Most sensitive caregivers have babies that are securely attached.


Maternal depression is particularly poisonous to secure attachment.


Even before birth, a woman’s unhappiness and ambivalence correlates to insecure attachment.


Even with these early warning signals, the child still has a chance to securely attach:

  The child’s personality plays a role, too.


The Child’s Role


Look at a litter of new born puppies and you will see, each has a different temperament (inborn personality style).


Easy, Wary and Difficult babies:

  Easy - have rhythmic cycles of eating and sleeping

  Wary – slow to warm up

  Difficult – hypersensitive, agitated and reactive


Temperament is biological (Nature) while care giving is part of nurturing. Which is more important?

  The interaction of both influences the outcome

  Remember, bidirectional reciprocal determinism


Other Attachments

  A mother’s friends help overcome insecurity

  A happy marriage helps produce secure attachments


Culture and Attachment

  Babies around the world attach nearly identically

  Secure attachment hovers around 60% worldwide

  Early Kibbutz methods of child sleeping produced large amounts of insecure children


Changing the sleep patterns to co-sleeping increased secure attachments

  Multiple attachments occur, but there is a primary figure that is most predictive of the child’s development

The Predictive Power of Attachment


Attachment and success in the wider world

  Correlational studies show that securely attached children do very well socially

  The correlations tend to deteriorate over time


Behavior near the testing date is more correlated than behaviors many years later in life



The Predictive Power of Attachment


Attachment and adult relationships

  One longitudinal study showed that – although 60%  of infants were securely attached – at age 19 only 33% were still considered secure.

  Most of the loss of secure attachment correlated to family issues – STRESS

  There may be a sensitive period for secure attachment: 


A child that does not experience secure attachment within a year may never be able to become securely attached and may never do well socially


Given the opportunities to move from insecure to secure attachment, Harlow found that four months was a good predictor. If a monkey did not show signs of improvement within four months, they never did.


  Insecure attachment is not simply the mother’s fault:


The child's temperament must be considered


There are other caregivers involved


The attachment of early life can be changed - up or down


The wider world environment also influences attachment


Contexts of Development


The prevalence of poverty

  The U.S. Federal Government defines the poverty line as an income level that allows a household to pay for shelter, food, and clothes, with a small amount left over.

  In 2005, that level was determined to be $19,350 or less for a family of four.

  Single mother households, immigrant (mostly Latino) households, and elderly women are more prone to poverty.


Effects of Poverty


Poverty and Cognitive Development

  Children in poverty


Score lower on IQ tests than their peers


Drop out of school more frequently than their peers


Tend not to attend preschool before starting schooling


Do not know as much as their peers when they get to school


Tend to be born in the low birth weight category


Do not overcome depressed mothers as well as their peers


Have less access to educational toys and computers


Appear to be stressed more than their peers


Live in substandard housing and go to substandard schools



Intervention and Impact

Giving disadvantaged children a boost

  Head Start and Early Head Start



Provides health screening, social services, and parenting classes


The impact of childcare

  The U.S. offers 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.

  So, the average U.S. child begins non-maternal care at 3.5 months because mothers return to work.

  Some of these children are cared for by other family members.

  Non-family care can be “Family daycare” or “Daycare centers.”


Attachment and Childcare


Childcare, Attachment, and Development

  Putting a child into daycare does not lessen the attachment bond

  Research shows it is the quality, not the quantity, of the mother’s care that determines the attachment bond

  However, high quantities of non-family care does correlate to less than optimal behavior by age 5


This may be due to parents sending hard to control children to day care more than others.

Which Childcare?

Which childcare choice works best?

  If you have options – pick the best quality daycare

  Look for:  

Lots of toys and loving caregivers

The relationship between the caregivers and the children

Sanitary surroundings

Ask around the area about Safety violations

Look for low employee turnover at the center

How many caregivers are there per child?

Are any of the caregivers certified? Do they get training?

Is the center certified?


Final Childcare Topics

World view:

  In Sweden, women get 1 year of maternity leave at 80% of their pay!


Sex differences in day care:

  Boy babies were found to be much more difficult when adjusting to the situation.

  The effects of bad and crowded day-care show up more in boys.

Attachment differences:

  Securely attached children do best.

  Children did better if their parents spent time at the center helping their children get acclimated.


Living as a Toddler



  The milestone of self-conscious emotions indicate awareness of self

  Shame and guilt are essential to socializing


Socialization: The two-year-old challenge

  Prior to age two, most rules center around safety issues

  By age two, we include socializing rules

Regulating behavior develops from 1.5 to 4 years of age and comes in two types

    Stop doing something - don’t touch - (more easy to perform)
    DO something - clean up - (not as easy to perform)



Being Exuberant or Shy

  Temperament is an important element in obedience

The fearless, exuberant, joyful, intrepid explorer is harder to control and girls are more often able to regulate better than boys.

  About 20% of babies are inhibited and another 20% are uninhibited

Most will drift closer to the emotional center by age 4 to 7 years.



Being Exuberant or Shy

Socializing a shy baby

Parents that insulate their shy baby end up with children ranked most shy.  Don't overprotect.

Gently exposing the toddler to new and frustrating situations teaches them to cope.


Raising a rambunctious toddler


Resist power assertion - don't yell, scream and hit

The best way to get compliance is to develop a strong attachment bond

Love and acceptance matters most to securely attached kids



Promoting the best temperament-environment fit

-Foster a secure, loving relationship

-Understand the child’s specific temperament

-Minimize vulnerabilities and accentuate strengths