Week 8: Wrapping Up the Summer

My last full week of the summer was largely spent wrapping up the projects I had been working on, finalizing recruitment protocols, and checking out books and articles about the underlying theory my lab employs in its work. I read more of some original lectures given by John Bowlby compiled in the book A Secure Base, which I wrote about in my previous blog post. Bowlby was a psychologist and researcher who established much of modern attachment theory in the field of psychology, while drawing on the current theories and experiments of his time, such as Ainsworth’s Strange Situation. He writes in these lectures about attachment generally, and how it is influenced by family structures and parenting styles. I enjoyed reading about his experiences with patients who had been raised by parents who employed various methods of controlling their children, such as threats of abandonment, abuse, or the expectation of total obedience, to name a few.  Through these clinical interviews by himself and other psychoanalysts, Bowlby was able to identify key symptoms, general attachment styles, environmental influences, and thought patterns that were typical of individuals who experienced these types of home environments as children. These individuals displayed various types of attachment security, which Bowlby was able to outline and provide examples of. The three types of attachment and their consequences throughout the life course that Bowlby addresses in A Secure Base are secure attachment, anxious resistant attachment, and anxious avoidant attachment. A securely attached child to his or her mother/father/parental figure views them as a secure base from which to explore the world, meaning that the more secure the base, the more the child ventures from it, trusting that they will receive comfort and security from that figure upon return (Bowlby 167). Anxious resistant attachment occurs when a child is unsure of the reception they will receive from a parent or caregiver, which may spur very whiny, clingy behavior from the child, as well as a predisposition for separation anxiety (Bowlby 167). Parental behavior that may lead to a child’s anxious resistant attachment style could include a mix of warm interactions and separations of parent and child, or threats of separation/abandonment (Bowlby 167). Since the child experiences uncertainty as to the caregiver’s response, s/he becomes clingy in order to avoid the feared separation. Lastly, anxious avoidant attachment occurs when a child believes that they will never be the recipient of a warm response should he turn to a caregiver for support or comfort (Bowlby 167). A child operating within this type of attachment style may attempt to be entirely self-sufficient, at times clingy, tense, or even passively helpless (Bowlby 167-168). The author emphasized that he felt nothing but compassion for these parents who, as supported by empirical research, were likely acting out the cycle of violence, abuse, or neglect to which they had been subjected themselves. Our Glass Task experiment builds on this research, so I spent time at the end of my summer collecting sources from the library to peruse before I return at the end of the month.

Additionally, I worked on finalizing a recruitment protocol to be used in future efforts in the lab. A big part of what I did this summer was recruiting families for the Glass Task study, and so I assembled a document with the schools, churches, offices, daycare centers, bookstores, recreation centers, libraries, restaurants and more that helped us spread the word about our study. While we had several families scheduled to participate in this last week, they all happened to need to be rescheduled for another time. We had a good number of email inquiries about our study, which will be starting up again in the fall term, so we will be in good shape to start running the study again in a few weeks. My last week was spent mostly typing up loose odds and ends, a final Family Drawing coding meeting, and closing out the summer with a farewell party for lab mates who are graduating and moving on to their next adventure.