Attachment her study, 63% did not have a secure

Attachment in infancy is classified into
three main styles; secure, insecure resistant and insecure avoidant. These
types of attachment can be defined by specific patterns of behaviour that Mary
Ainsworth recorded during the Strange Situation. Carol Garhart Mooney (2010)
describes the Strange Situation as ‘a twenty-minute observation of infant play
in an unfamiliar room while both familiar and unfamiliar adults enter and leave
the room.’ (p 30-31). Ainsworth is the psychologist and researcher responsible
for both the Strange Situation experiment and the classification of types of
attachment that are so widely used in research into infant attachment. The term
‘developmental outcomes’ can be defined in a very broad manner, however for the
purpose of this essay they will be defined through three categories; cognitive,
social and biological. Attachment, particularly in infancy, is a widely studied
topic meaning there is a substantial amount of research, most of which concludes
that there is a strong link between attachment in infancy and later
developmental outcomes for children.

Due to the importance placed on academia
in the western world, there is much research into whether attachment style in
infancy affects cognitive development. Dallaire (2007) reported on the growing
number of mothers in American prisons. Dallaire took results from Poehlmann (2005a)
who found that of the 60 children with incarcerated mothers in her study, 63%
did not have a secure attachment to either their current caregiver or to their
mother. Poehlmann (2005b) found that those children with incarcerated mothers
had significantly lower Stanford-Binet IQ scores in comparison to the published
data for their age groups. Furthermore, Dallaire informs that in a survey of
260 incarcerated mothers, 31% reported that at least one of her children had
been held back a grade at school. Poehlmann’s research revealed the high
percentage of children who are insecurely attached when their mothers are
incarcerated, allowing the following data to highlight how these insecure
attachments are strongly linked to cognitive developmental outcomes as well as
their academic achievement. In a review of the biopsychosocial outcomes of attachment
type, Ranson and Urichuk (2008) reported on how insecure attachment has been
related to aggressive behaviour in infants. Using work by Mosten and Coatsworth
(1998); Bassarath (2001); and Snyder (2001), Ranson and Urichuk concluded that
early aggression may predispose children to future academic failure and school
dropout. Additionally, Ranson and Urichuk also considered the concept of object
permanence which is the awareness that an object exists even when it cannot be
seen. They concluded from Bell’s (1970) research that infants with secure
attachments were more advanced in object permanence than their insecurely
attached counterparts. Consequently, Ranson and Urichuk reported that, based on
research by Rose et al (1992), higher object permanence in infants may be
predictive of overall intelligence in later childhood, and of specific
cognitive abilities including reading at age six. Contrastingly, research by Schiffrin
(2014) using self-report measures found no relationship between attachment and
grade point average. However, Schiffrin’s sample was only students which may
indicate why no correlation was found as those who may have struggled with
cognitive development due to insecure attachment styles have already been
removed. Ultimately, there is clearly a strong link between attachment style in
infancy and cognitive outcomes for children.

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The ability to socialise well with others
is an important developmental outcome that has been widely researched. Ranson
and Urichuk’s (2008) review suggests that securely attached infants have better
social development. Taking results from Waters et al (1979), Fagot (1997) and
Pastor (1981), Ranson and Urichuk reported that securely attached 18-month olds
show more effective sharing, increased reciprocity with playmates and are
generally more cooperative, sociable and engaging when observed again at 24
months. Correspondingly, Ranson and Urichuk reviewed how Booth et al (1991)
related insecure attachment to the use of aggression and negative affect before
the age of four. This has been reported, by Mosten and Coatsworth (1998),
Bassarath (2001) and Snyder (2001), to predispose an infant to later defiant
behaviour and conduct disorder. Ranson and Urichuk’s review also considered how
securely or insecurely attached children are perceived. Collecting information
from Bohlin et al (2000) and Cohn (1990), Ranson and Urichuk reported that
whilst securely attached children are more socially active and popular,
insecurely attached children are less liked by their peers and teachers and
tend to start more fights amongst their contemporaries. This clearly highlights
the difference in social development between insecurely and securely attached
children. Research by Boldt, Kochanska and Jonas (2017) regarding how infants
relate to their parents, particularly when following instruction, found that
infants who had been categorised as insecurely attached were more likely to
reject the mother’s prohibition. These infants were also perceived by their
mothers as displaying antisocial conduct problems during preadolescence.
Furthermore, Boldt et al highlighted how securely attached infants followed
their parent’s instruction. This displays the difference between insecurely and
securely attached infants when faced with parental prohibition and how this
affects their ability to socialise appropriately within their family. Schiffrin’s
(2014) research into the effect of attachment style and positive affect on
later developmental outcomes found that participants classified as having an
insecure-avoidant attachment withdrew from others and disliked seeking social
support. Consequently, Schiffrin concluded that those participants may have
fewer opportunities to experience positive affect from social interactions
which would further inhibit their social development. A review by Branjerdporn,
Meredith, Strong and Gareia (2017) concerning the association between maternal-foetal
attachment and infant developmental outcomes found that maternal-foetal
attachment is significantly correlated with infant temperament outcomes which
often affects how relaxed or anxious the infant is in social situations. There
is substantial evidence to conclude that attachment type links strongly to
social developmental outcomes.

Biological developmental outcomes in
association to infant attachment type has not been as widely researched. This
may be due to the extensive range of factors that can cause physical changes. However,
there is some research that suggests the two are related. Lyons-Ruth, Pechtel,
Yoon, Anderson and Teicher (2016) considered whether disorganised attachment
style in infancy leads to greater amygdala volume in later life. The amygdala
is located in the medial temporal lobe and is mainly responsible for emotion
processing. The researchers found that 67% of their participants were
classified as having disorganised attachment in infancy and a similarly large
portion had an enlarged amygdala. Lyons-Ruth et al reported that left amygdala
enlargement is associated with withdrawing behaviours from the mother.
Furthermore, the increased volume of the left amygdala contributes towards
increased irritability in the limbic pathways which are involved in emotional
processing, survival instincts and memory. Therefore, it can be concluded that
disorganised attachment style in infancy links strongly to problematic
biological developmental outcomes. In a study by Branjerdporn, Meredith, Strong
and Gareia (2017) concerning the association between maternal-foetal attachment
and infant developmental outcomes, it was suggested that maternal-foetal
attachment may be related to infant sleep patterns as well as colic in infants.
However, this link was not presented as very strong, perhaps because there are
many factors that could affect sleep patterns and colic in babies. Schiffrin
(2014) researched the effect of attachment style and positive affect on
developmental outcomes including physiological reactivity. The physical health
of the participants was assessed using a self-report of overall health as well
as by rating the applicability of statements, concerning health and illness, to
themselves. Schiffrin found that people who were classified as having an
insecure avoidant attachment style showed greater physiological reactivity to
negative affect in comparison to participants with secure attachments. An
example of this using stress as the negative affect may be suffering from
headaches. This suggests that an insecure attachment style can affect the
biological outcomes of a person, particularly the way in which negative affect
may alter their physical health. This research shows that the link between
infant attachment style and later biological developmental outcomes is
substantial.

In conclusion, the research has shown that
there is a significant link between attachment style in infancy and later
developmental outcomes for children. It is important that this link is used in
a positive way by locating and supporting infants who do not have a secure
attachment and taking measures to prevent this from affecting their cognitive,
social, and biological development. It is necessary to consider that much of
the research into attachment styles and consequent developmental outcomes
relies on either self-report measures or data collection through a family
member (e.g. a mother answering a questionnaire about her infant’s behaviour).
This can be problematic as it may lead to inaccurate data due to the
participants being affected by social desirability bias. There are two main
ways to overcome this problem. Firstly, to reassure the participants that all
the data collected will be anonymised. Secondly, to use other methods of data
collection that do not rely on information being provided by the participants.
For example, an observation such as the Strange Situation is an effective data
collection method; and is used in much of the research previously discussed. Of
the three main developmental outcomes discussed, social development is clearly
the most actively linked with attachment style in infants. Whilst cognitive and
biological development are undeniably influenced by attachment type, it is
social development that relies most heavily on a secure attachment style in
infancy.