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Posts archived in Attachment

A recent study by Brooks-Gunn et al. (2010) has concluded that the benefits related to going out to work may balance out any harm to children in such situations. The study analysed data from the American NICHD study, calculating the total effect of maternal employment – taking into account all factors related to being a working mother like income, qualities as a parent, and high quality child care. Taking the advantages and disadvantages into account, they found that the net effect is neutral. They looked specifically at maternal employment during a child’s first year and found that the more important factors are those related to the quality of parenting and children’s experiences of child care, rather than the absence or presence of a mother.

Is it good for a baby to have a very young mother? And what about having a much older mother? We hear quite a lot about young girls getting pregnant, but there is also a small but increasing number of women giving birth aged 60+. For example, Rajo Devi had a baby at the age of 70. What are the psychological implications for attachment between a baby and much older parents, would the age difference matter? Might there be benefits to the attachment? And what are the psychological implications as the child grows up?

Rajo Devi and her baby


Mind Changers

Many of you will be familiar with the excellent BBC radio series called Mind Changers which has included programmes on Milgram, Piaget, Ainsworth, Bartlett, Kohlberg, Zimbardo, Harlow, Asch. Some of these are currently available as podcasts here or you can go to PsychBLOG where Jamie has downloaded some and there are also some available on Spokenword (free subscription for teachers).

If anyone finds copies elsehwere, let us know!


“given our rapidly evolving conceptions of “father” and “family,” fatherhood in the 1990s is probably tougher, psychologically, than at any other time in recent history”.

Hah…. I knew I needed some kip…


“We are inherently attracted to a specific set of characteristics, including large, symmetrical heads, large eyes, small mouths and small noses,” according to Jeffrey Kurland, associate professor of biological anthropology and human development. But why do almost all humans find this particular set of features so appealing?”

Suggested answer here

Disturbingly non-cute babies here

“This is a resource to support the teaching of the new AQA A Level Psychology specification introduced for September 2008. This unit specifically supports PSYA1 and consists of most if not all possible questions with models of appropriate answers”.

Download here


Links of love


No card from your loved one ?

Feeling rejected this Valentine’s Day?

Maybe it’s you….. maybe you’re just too clingy….. check out your style with the LOVE QUIZ

(Mind you, you can’t take too much notice of these things – there’s always a statistician trying to spoil things isn’t there?)

Or maybe it isn’t you…. maybe it’s them. But don’t be too hard on your loved one if they’ve forgotten you. It’s not their fault they’re an affectionless psychopath.

… I blame the parents….



I got sent details of a lovely new website a while back. It has test questions, resources, filmclips, a shrine to Sigmund Freud… what more could you want?

Less pleasingly, it carries on the preoccupation with cats that has so bedevilled psychology of late. I appreciate the marketing genius of designating a textbook ‘The Cat Book’ - it is, after all, the first word anyone learns to spell, so brand recognition is pretty much guaranteed, but I am, it must be said, generally troubled by catowners. Such folk are only encouraged by the internet. I saw one post something online the other day along the lines of: ‘Love your cat, they only live to love’…… tell that to your local songbird population.

I think it’s important to point out to folk that YOUR CAT DOES NOT LOVE YOU. Indeed, it’s possible to establish online that your cat hates you. Go and have a look. You may question the validity of this questionnaire as a research tool (and if you’ve finished unit one, you should be rather good at this), but let’s face it, is it any easier to establish if a baby loves you?


(pic: A cat blunders into the Ames Room)

Just a quick evaluation nugget for you. Fraley and Spieker (2003) have found that classifying infants by type may not be accurate. The researchers looked at data recorded for over 1000 children involved in the NICHD study. The data had been collected from observations made in the strange situation. The re-analysis showed that variations in patterns was largely continuous i.e. children didn’t possess a cluster of characteristics typical of one particular category. Instead they differed along various dimensions such as response to mother’s return.This challenges any research which has categorised children as secure, insecure-resistant or insecure-avoidant because such exclusive categories don’t represent reality, according to this research. Fraley, R. C., & Spieker, S. J. (2003). Are infant attachment patterns continuously or categorically distributed? A taxometric analysis of strange situation behavior. Developmental Psychology, 39, 387-404.

In the AS Complete Companion, the summaries at the end of chapter 2 (page 58), the text regarding the weaknesses of learning theory says that ‘Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found infants were most attached to the adult who fed them’. This is wrong, as the text earlier in the chapter states that they found that infants were not necessarily most attached to the person that fed them – a more important factor in the development of attachment was the responsiveness of the adult (see page 35).