Social development
An Overview
What is Social development
We are social beings
We are exposed to a social
world from the day we are born
This social world shapes the
way we grow.
Social Development: A definition
Social development refers to the
development of interaction with
the human world around us,
including relationships with others
and also the social skills we need
to fit into our culture or society.
How do we study Social development!
(Harlow 1959)
Early Relationships
• Schaffer (1996)
• ‘Defined attachment as a long enduring
emotional meaningful tie to a particular
• The bond is characterised by a desire for
closeness to individuals such as the primary
• This attachment source will often offer
comfort, security and other primary needs.
Attachment: A definition
“A close and consistent emotional bond with mother”
(Bowlby 1940s)
“An affectional tie that one person or animal forms between himself and
another specific one – a tie that binds them together in space and
endures over time”
(Ainsworth & Bell, 1970)
Schaffer & Emerson (1964)
• 60 Glasgow infants
• Carried out observations and interviews with
parents at regular intervals during the first 18
months after birth
• They found that a particular pattern of
attachment occurred in a significant amount
of participants.
Stages of Attachment
(Schaffer & Emerson 1964)
Stage/ Age
Type of Attachment
(0-6 weeks)
Babies respond in a similar way to people and objects,
although they prefer to look at human-like stimuli.
(6 weeks to 6 months)
Babies show no particular preference for a specific
individual and will be comforted by anyone.
Single strong attachment Babies show a strong preference for a single individual and
(7 to 12 months)
will show fear of strangers.
Multiple attachments
(12 months onwards)
Babies will show attachment towards several figures. By 18
months some infants have as many as five attachment
The Functions of Attachment
Initially it was thought infants attach
to the person who provide food
Rhesus monkeys prefer to spend time with cloth
mother instead of the wire monkey that feeds
However babies do not always attach to the
person who feeds them but to those who
comfort (Harlow 1959)
The Functions of Attachment cont.
Evolutionary psychologists have suggests that attachment is crucial for
Attachment is useful to avoid predators
attachment gives protection from a group and
is vital for survival
Bowlby (1969) proposed
attachment provides and internal
working model of relationships
Attachment therefore provides a mental view of
what relationships are and gives expectations in
later life.
Observable attachment behaviours
Using as a safe
base i.e.
Playing close to
Stranger fear.
Ainsworth (1978)
The Strange Situtaion
• This study has been replicated many times and is
now a standard measure for measuring type and
quality of attachment
• The Aim was to study the reactions of children to
Brief separations from the mother
• A controlled observation infants were exposed to
a sequence of 3 minute episodes starting the
with mother and child and then strangers were
• The behaviours were recorded.
The Strange situation Cont.
• Ainsworth classified infants as:
– Securely attached
– Anxious avoidant
– Anxious resistant
65% fell into the secure catagory
15-20% were in the other 2 catagories
What conclusions can be made?
What ethical issues are there?
Key questions to think about
Is the strange situation a good indicator of the child’s
overall behaviour?
Is attachment behaviour
consistent through time?
What if the child is
Van Ijzendoorn
The strange situation
• Replicated the strange situation study that
Ainsworth did in 1978
• However he looked cross culturally
• He found cross cultural differences in
• Japanese infants show high amount of
resistant attachment
• German infants show more avoidant
attachments (Grossmann et al. 1985)
John Bowlby’s Ethological Theory
• “Ethological Theory of attachment recognises the infant’s
emotional tie to the caregiver as an evolved response that
promotes survival”
– The Instinctive nature of attachment
– The importance of parental responsiveness to innate
– A critical or sensitive period early in a child’s life when
attachments must development.
Bowlby’s 44 juvenile thieves study
• His theory supported by his 1944 study of
‘delinquent boys’
• 44 boys who have suffered from maternal
deprivation in early childhood
• Bowlby (1951) labelled boys “Affectionless
• Bowlby concluded that delinquency is related
to maternal deprivation
Criticisms of Bowlby
• Early research did not account for other
• Is there a critical period?
• Death of parent does not lead to affectionless
• Depravation effects in monkey’s have been
shown to be reversible.
Are there any
other problems
with Bowlby’s