Definition of Attachment - “a close emotional bond between two people characterised by mutual affection and a desire to maintain proximity” Schaffer (1993)

Key behaviours of attachment between two people - Maccoby (1980)
1) Distress at separation.
2) Pleasure at reunion.
3) A feeling of comfort and security when within close proximity of the other person.

Stages of Attachment - Schaffer and Emerson (1964)
1) Asocial Stage (0 – 6 weeks) – smiling or crying is not directed at any one individual.
2) Indiscriminate Attachment (6 weeks – 7 months) - attention is sought from any individuals.
3) Specific Attachments (7 – 11 months) - strong attachment to one individual, multiple attachments then follow.

Schaffer and Emerson’s Research to support their stages of attachment

  • They followed 60 infants for 2 years and observed them every 4 weeks until they were 1 year old then observed them again when they were 18 months old.
  • Attachment was measured by using a separation protest and stranger anxiety.


1) Half of the children developed their first specific attachment between 6 to 8 months.
2) The intensity of the attachment peaked in the first month after attachment behaviour first appeared.
3) By 18 months only 13% were attached to only one person.
4) In 39% of cases the primary care giver was not the child’s first attachment object.


  • Strength - it was a longitudinal study meaning that it eliminates individual differences as a possible cause of the findings.
  • Strength – it was ecologically valid because the study was done on real children in the real world.
  • Weakness - the parents collected the data which means it could be biased.
  • Strength - however, it is more reliable than retrospective data.
  • Weakness - Asocial stage – other research has shown that 2 week old babies recognised the mother’s face and voice.
  • Strength / Weakness - finding no. 4 shows that food is not always a factor in attachment which criticises the behaviourist explanation of attachment.