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MCAT Psychology Question — Attachment Theory

According to attachment theory, which of the following children is most likely to attach to a male psychologist, previously unknown to the child, in the course of a psychological study?


A) A two month old female infant raised in a safe, stable environment

B) A five month old male infant raised in a safe, stable environment

C) An eight month old male infant raised by a single caregiver who frequently neglect the child

D) A thirteen month old female infant raised by two caregivers who occasionally neglect the child




Attachment theory describes a series of steps that infants will progress through as they grow. During the first three months of life, an infant will indiscriminately attach to any person and will respond equally to any caregiver. Thus (A) is an apt description of attaching to a previously unknown adult.


Around 4 to 6 months babies will begin to recognize certain caregivers but will still accept care from anyone. Thus in (B) the baby will probably accept care from the psychologist, but the infant in (A) is much more likely to attach to the psychologist.


From 6 to 9 months a baby will exhibit a strong attachment preference for a single caregiver, although the pattern of that attachment will vary based on the relationship that has developed between the caregiver and the child. Despite the neglect, the child in (C) will still have a preference for a single caregiver.


After 9 months, children slowly develop increasing independence and will slowly form multiple attachments. The child in (D) will thus begin to develop attachments to both caregivers, but not to the psychologist, who is a stranger.


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