Schaffer's Stages of Attachment and Multiple Attachments (Stages of…
Schaffer's Stages of Attachment and Multiple Attachments
Schaffer and Emerson (1964):
longitudinal study of 60 infants from Glasgow over their first 18 months of lives
working class families
visited them for monthly interviews in hone for first year then again at 18 months
researchers interviewed mothers asking questions about everyday experience to assess separation anxiety and stranger anxiety
6-9 months - 50% show separation anxiety towards person
Reciprocity is mostly with birth mother
39% not attached with PCG who fed them
10 months - 80% formed specific attachments
30% - formed multiple attachments
Stages of Attachment
Pre-attachment (asocial) stage:
Birth - 2/3 months. In initial stages, infant's behaviour towards non-human objects and humans is similar. At 6 weeks, infants attracted to humans, preferring them to objects demonstrated by smiling at people's faces.
Indiscriminate attachment stage
2/3 months-7/8 months. Discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar people, smiling more at known people and showing a preference for them.. Still allow strangers to handle and look after them.
Discriminate (specific) attachment stage
7/8 months on wards. Infants begin to develop specific attachments, staying close to a particular person + showing separation anxiety when away from them. Avoid unfamiliar people and show stranger anxiety, protesting if a stranger tries to handle them.
Multiple attachments stage
9+ months. Infants from strong emotional ties with other major caregivers, like grandparents and other non caregivers like other children. Stranger anxiety weakens, but attachment to PCG is strongest.
Methodological evaluation of Schaffer and Emerson
Data collected may be unreliable
Because it was based on mothers report of infants behaviour. Some mothers may have been less sensitive to infants protests and would be less likely to report them
Issue as if data was unreliable, could mean that Schaffer's stages are also unreliable and cannot be applied universally to all infants
Conflicting evidence on multiple attachments (cultural variations)
Isn't clear when infants form multiple attachments
Some psychologists agree with his theory, others found contradictory results, particularly in others cultures. Psychologists who've done work in collectivist cultures found infants form multiple attachments before specific ones (supported by van iljendoorn)
This shows it may not be applicable in individualistic culture as child rearing practices affect type of attachments infants develo
Limitations of stage theories (individual differences)
Developmental psychologists don't take individual differences into consideration
This suggests infant development us inflexible and all infants will develop at same rate. Schaffer's stage theory suggests specific attachments come before multiple attachments. In some situations , this may not be the case as multiple attachments may be formed first
Issue as by ignoring individual differences, infants and families could be judged as abnormal as they're considered to not meet the standard set by Schaffer's stage theory