Attachment - Schaffer and Emerson (Stages of Attachment (Stage 2:…
Attachment - Schaffer and Emerson
- formation of early attachments (the age in which they develop, their intensity, and who they are directed at.
60 babies (31 males, 29 females) from working-class families in Glasgow.
Babies and mothers visited at home every month for the first year and then again at 18 months.
Questioned mothers about kind of protest babies showed towards seven everyday separations e.g. adult leaving the room. (Separation anxiety)
Also measured stranger anxiety
Measured attachment based on these principles
Between 25 and 32 weeks of age, about 50% showed signs of separation anxiety towards a particular adult, usually mother.
This person tended to be the one who was most sensitive to baby's signals and interacted most with them.
By 40 weeks, 80% had specific attachments and almost 30% displayed multiple attachments.
Evaluation of Study
Good internal validity
- carried out in families' own homes and most observation was done by parents themselves during everyday activities. Excellent chance participants behaved naturally.
- the same children were followed up and observed regularly. Better internal validity than cross-sectional studies (observing different children at each stage) because they do not have the confounding variable of individual differences (participant variables).
Limited sample characteristics
- sample of 60 is good considering large volume of info gathered from each participant. However, all families involved were from same district and social class in the same city, from a time over 50 years ago. Results do not generalise well to other social and historical contexts.
Stages of Attachment
Stage 2: Indiscriminate Attachment (2-7 months)
- more observable social behaviour. Preference for people rather than inanimate objects, recognise and prefer familiar adults. Usually accept cuddles from any adult and do not usually show any separation or stranger anxiety.
Stage 3: Specific Attachment (7 months - )
- start to show stranger and separation anxiety based on one specific person (mother in 65% of cases). Primary attachment figure is one who responds best to signals and interacts often.
Stage 1: Asocial Stage (first few weeks)
- baby recognises and forms bonds with carers. However behaviour towards humans and non-human objects is quite similar, but they are happier around other humans. Show some preference for familiar adults.
Stage 4: Multiple Attachments
- extend attachment behaviour to more adults and form secondary attachments (e.g. with father, siblings, grandparents etc).
Evaluation of Stages
Problem studying asocial stage
- babies at this stage are young, have poor co-ordination and are pretty much immobile. Therefore very difficult to gain knowledge about them from observations as there is hardly any observable behaviour. Evidence cannot be relied on.
Conflicting evidence on multiple attachments
- not entirely clear when these happen. Most research seems to indicate that specific attachments happen first. However, psychologists in collectivist cultures (where multiple caregivers are the norm) believe babies form multiple attachments from the outset.
Measuring multiple attachments
- may be a problem with how these are assessed. Just because a baby gets distressed when a person leaves the room does not mean they are a 'true' attachment figure. Babies also cry when playmates leave the room, but these are not the same as attachment figures.