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A description of how two people interact. Mother-infant interaction is reciprocal in that both infant and mother respond to each other's signals and each elicits a response from the other


Interactional Synchrony

Mother and infant reflect both the actions and emotions of the other and do this in a co-ordinated/synchronised way


Stages of Attachment

A sequence of qualitatively different behaviours linked to different ages. Some characteristics of the infants behaviour towards others change as the infant gets older


Multiple Attachment

Attachments to two or more people Most babies appear to develop multiple attachments once they have formed a attachment to their main carer


Animal Studies

A study carried out on non-human species either for ethical or practical reasons


Learning Theory

A set of theories from behaviourist approach that empathises the role of learning in the acquisition of behaviour



A term sometimes used to describe Bowlby's theory. It indicates that one particular attachment is different from all others and of central importance to the child's development


Internal Working Models

The mental representations we all carry with us of our attachment to our primary caregiver. These are important in affecting our future relationships because they carry our perception of what relationships are like


Critical Period

Refers to the time within which an attachment must form if it is to form at all. If they don't form an attachment during this period (up to 2 years old), they will struggle to form them later on


Strange Situation

A controlled observation designed to test attachment security. Infants are assessed on their response to playing in an unfamiliar room, being left alone, left with a stranger and being reunited with a carer


Secure Attachment

Generally thought as the most desirable attachment type, associated with psychologically healthy outcomes. This is shown by moderate stranger and separation anxiety and ease of comfort at reunion


Insecure-Avoidant Attachment

An attachment type characterised by low anxiety but weak attachment. This is shown by low stranger and separation anxiety and little response to reunion-an avoidance of the caregiver


Insecure-Resistant Attachment

An attachment type characterised by strong attachment and high anxiety. This is shown by high levels of stranger and separation anxiety and by resistance to be conformed at reunion


Cultural Variations

The difference between norms and values that exist between people in different groups


Maternal Deprivation

The emotional and intellectual consequences of separation between a child and their mother or mother substitute. Bowlby proposed that continuous care from the mother was essential for normal psychological development, and that prolonged separation causes serious damage to emotional and intellectual development



A term for the effects of living in an institutional setting. In an institution, there is often very little emotional care provided.


Orphan Studies

These concern children placed into care because their parents cannot look after them. An orphan is a child whose parents have either died or have abandoned them permanently


Childhood Relationships

Affiliations with other people in childhood, such as friends and classmates, and with adults such as teachers


Adult Relationships

Those relationships the child goes on to have later in life as an adult. These include friendships and working relationships but most critically, romantic partners and the person's own children