Outline and Evaluate Research Into Cultural Variations in Attachment

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Outline and evaluate research into cultural variations in attachment Due to the fact that the ways that people bring up their children can be very different all over the world as we share different attitudes, values and beliefs etc. People emphasize on developing distinct skills and qualities, so attachments formed can be different. For instance, countries like America and Germany would value personal independence and achievement more, whereas interdependence between people is valued more in China. The two cultures mentioned are called individualistic culture and collectivist culture respectively.

In Israel, child-rearing practices in kibbutzim was studied by Fox. Babies are placed into communal childcare when they are around four days old and looked after by a nurse. The nurse does the physical aspects of childcare and parents are only allowed to visit the baby about three hours a day. The child is likely to have less adult attention and much more contact with peers. The approach indicates that child-rearing shows huge differences from those we are used to. Moreover, the varied attachments because of cultural differences can also be shown by how children and caregivers are valued.

The relationship between child and specific caregiver is valued in some cultures more than others. Tronick et al(1992) suggested even though the children of the Efe people of Zambia spend up to 60 per cent of their time with women other than their mothers, the bonds they form with multiple caregivers are still as strong as those formed in Western cultures with children and single carers. Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg carried out a meta-analysis that collates and analyses data from many studies carried out by other researchers of 32 separate studies in eight different countries over 2000 babies using Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’.

To find out about attachments types in different cultures. Participants were then classified into three groups. Generally, Type B (secure attachment )was most common, with Type C least common (the standard pattern). Type C were more common in Israel, China and Japan. Highest Type A attachment were found in Germany but very rare in Japan and Israel. The lowest proportion of Type B (secure attachments) was found in China and the highest in Great Britain. They found a greater variation in attachment patterns within cultures than between cultures.

That is, the intra-cultural variation was nearly one-and-a-half times the cross-cultural variation. The weakness is it is an over-simplification to assume that all children are brought up in exactly the same way in a particular country or culture. The findings reflect on the way children are brought up. In Germany, even working mothers are rare, children are encouraged to be independent and self-reliant. Also, greater personal distance is the norm and proximity seeking is not encouraged. These experiences lead young children to show less anxiety about separation and be classed as avoidant.

In Japan, children rarely are separated from mother, which explains why Japanese babies tended to show violent protest when the mother left but did not settle down when the mother returned leading them to be classified as ambivalent. In Israel, children are brought up in communes called kibbutzim. Babies brought up in Israel where they live in small group and are rarely exposed to strangers, protested most violently when confronted with the stranger. The practical application that have resulted from the work of Aviezar et al was encouraging. Aviezar et al into babies living in the kibbutz system in Israel.

They argued that the collective sleeping arrangements , where babies and young children sleep together in large dormitories. Therefore, many kibbutzim are now changing to make arrangements more family like. They can be cared for communally during the day but return to parents at night to sleep in the family house. There are some methodological issues. Firstly, this is a substantial meta-analysis considering the attachment behaviours of a very large number of infants. A large sample size is needed in order to generalize findings to the rest of the population.

Secondly, over half of the 32 studies were carried out in the US. Only one was conducted in China. 27 of the studies were carried in individualistic cultures and only five taking place in collectivist cultures. Lastly, using the Strange Situation in different cultures is not really appropriate because it was developed in America. It can only reflect the customs of the US. There is no ethical issue. It is because a meta-analysis involves collating and analyzing many results of studies. This means that there are no direct ethical issues associated with it as the data collection and analysis is secondary.

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