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This free course, Attachment in the early years, covers theory and research in the area of attachment in early childhood. In the 1950s, John Bowlby was the first person to develop a theory about the significance of early attachments between caregivers and very young children. His work has stimulated a massive and very productive field of research with important implications for childcare. This OpenLearn course describes Bowlby's theory and the work that has built on it, illustrated with video recordings of the assessment of attachment in a laboratory setting and a talk by an eminent attachment researcher.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- describe attachment classifications and how they are assessed
- describe the features of caregiving that influence attachment, and the significance of attachment for lifespan development
- discuss why the attachment system is an adapted and adaptive mechanism
- recognise the need for ethical conduct in research carried out with children
- describe the ethics principles of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and explain how research can be conducted ethically in line with these principles.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction to attachment
- 2 Attachment theory
- 3 Attachment classification
- 4 Influences on attachment
- 5 Stability of attachment into later childhood
- 6 Strange Situation Test
- 7 Methods: the ethical conduct of research with human participants
- 7.1 Vulnerability
- 7.2 Degrees of harm
- 7.3 Ethical frameworks
- 7.4 What is research?
- 7.5 Key concepts, theorists and issues
- Keep on learning
- Further reading
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Attachment in the early years
For most, if not all, people, the attachments we have with others are at the centre of our lives and play a large part in determining how happy and contented we are. Attachments are two-way, dynamic processes between people and start from the beginning of life. John Bowlby, often called ‘the father of attachment theory’, was the key figure in developing a complex model of the attachment system and proposing how it serves to provide security to individuals while also encouraging them to be active in the world. Research based on this theory is revealing the significance of the early years of life in the formation of attachments that go on to be central throughout life. This free course gives an introduction to this exciting area of contemporary study and the ethics of research with children.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 16th February 2016
Last updated on: Tuesday, 16th February 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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