April 2012 Archives

Social Development

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Social development in infancy and childhood is established by a number of different things. Contact comfort and attachment styles are two of the main ways social development in infants and children is established. Contact comfort is defined as the positive emotions afforded by touch. Contact comfort helps psychologists understand why humans and human primates find touch so reassuring. Psychologists used to think that infants were bonded to their mothers because the mothers supply the nourishment to them. This was studied with infant rhesus monkeys and researchers found that this statement is false. Infants and humans create stronger relationships and bonds to reinforcement. Reinforcement is the primary shaping influence on our preferences. This surprised me because I never thought that infants processed reinforcements in their brains. I always thought infants were attached to their mothers because they were usually their primary food source and were also usually the primary caregiver. Psychologists have also studied attachment styles to get a better understanding of what makes infants attached to their mothers. Mary Ainsworth and her colleagues developed the "Strange Situation" to better understand infants' attachment styles. The "Strange Situation" is divided into the four categories: secure attachment, insecure-avoidant attachment, insecure-anxious attachment, and disorganized attachment. Psychologists determined that attachment styles derived from the "Strange Situation" predict children's latter behavior. Infants with a more secure attachment style grow up to be empathetic and well adjusted, while infants with a more anxious attachment style grow up to be disliked by their peers. I think it is very interesting how much infancy and childhood have such an impact on your personality in the future. The link I have attached is a video about Mary Ainsworth studies and research about infancy and their primary caregivers.


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