Klaus and Kennel – Skin to Skin Contact Hypothesis

Klaus and Kennel (1976)

Klaus and Kennel were interested in the concept of bond creation in infants and their care-givers. They also believed that the behaviour of the goslings could be linked to the survival of human infants. They also would have been very vulnerable when first born and so would need someone to protect them.

Date: 1976

Hypothesis: Early skin to skin contact leads to closer bonds being formed between new mothers and their babies.

Null Hypothesis: The amount of skin contact received by babies after birth does not affect the bonds being formed between new mothers and their babies.

Type of experiment: Field Experiment.

I.V: How much time the mothers spent with their children after birth.

D.V: How their level of attachments would change.

Sample: Two groups of young mothers in a North American maternity hospital. One was a control group and received the amount of skin to skin contact that they would usually and the other an experimental group that received more skin to skin contact.

Issues with Sample: The sample were said to have major problems that influenced the results. Many people said that the fact that they were young, unmarried and came from a socio-economically deprived background. They said that, not only did this not have high population validity, but meant that the results were influenced by the extra care given to them in the hospital and not the fact that had increased skin to skin contact.

Procedure: Klaus and Kennel made sure that the experimental group got more skin to skin contact with their baby after birth than the control group.They visited both groups a month after and then again after a year to see how the attachment was forming.

Observations: Klaus and Kennel found that the experimental group showed more signs of attachment, these included soothing behaviours such as gazing into the babies eyes and cuddling them, than the control group.

Findings: Klaus and Kennel concluded that the mother showed these more soothing behaviour because of the extended skin to skin contact that they received in the hospitals. They, mirroring Lorenz’s findings, stated that there is a “sensitive period” in which bonding appears in human babies.

Ecological Validity: The experiment was typical of births at the time and is a fiel experiment so has high ecological validity.

Internal and external validity: The external validity of this study is extremely low as it did not investigate what it said it would. Klaus and Kennel did not take into account the confounding variable of “extra attention given to the mothers in the hospital”. It is now realised that this is not in fact just a confounding variable but what they ended up investigating. As for external validity we find that this experiment’s results could be generalized to the general public despite the population validity being quite low.

Reliability: This experiment was replicated by De Chateau in 1987 with 42 middle class Swedish mothers and their babies. This means that the reliablility was high but also means that the hypothesis was correct.

Generalisability: This study’s generalisability is often questioned due to the issues with the sample. However, with De Chateau’s results we can say that the hypothesis is correct even if the Klaus and Kennel’s study lacked generalisability.

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1 Response to Klaus and Kennel – Skin to Skin Contact Hypothesis

  1. Pingback: Advanced Hypothesis – The Complex Stuff (Well, not really) | A Level Psychology Revision

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