Recent Revisions to The Complete Companions for AQA Psychology

Revisions to the Complete Companions for AQA Psychology

Oxford University Press is committed to keeping our resources are up to date and ensuring that they are inclusive. With this in mind, the Oxford Psychology Team have made some recent revisions to the Complete Companions for AQA Psychology Student Books and Kerboodle.

In this article, Cara Flanagan explains what has been changed across the Year 1 (AS/A Level) and Year 2 (A Level) resources and why. Note that, where relevant, changes to the textbooks are reflected in associated content on Kerboodle, including animations and worksheets.

Year 1 (AS/A Level): Chapter 2 Memory

On page 48 we cover the working memory model developed by Baddeley and Hitch in 1974. They used the term ‘slave systems’ to refer to the sub-systems of the model. As many teachers will be aware, there has been an increasing recognition that the term ‘slave’ is dehumanising. Therefore, we have changed the term here to ‘sub-systems’ which are controlled by the central executive.

Year 1 (AS/A Level): Chapter 3 Attachment

On page 72 we have made some changes to Schaffer’s stages of attachment. The AQA specification entry is ‘Stages of attachment identified by Schaffer’. We know that Rudolf Schaffer did not write a definitive list of stages with descriptions. There is some confusion because another psychologist by the name of David R. Shaffer did publish a list of stages of attachment in his Developmental Psychology textbook and attributed this to Rudolf Schaffer and his co-researcher Peggy Emerson.

Students will undoubtedly know the landmark study of Glasgow infants and parents by Schaffer and Emerson. They reported the study in a lengthy article entitled The Development of Social Attachments in Infancy (1964). David R. Shaffer described the study in his textbook (page 389 in the Sixth Edition) and then wrote:

‘Schaffer and Emerson found that infants pass through the following phases as they develop close ties with their caregivers’.

He then listed four stages:

  1. The Asocial Stage (0–6 weeks).
  2. The Phase of Indiscriminate Attachments (6 weeks to 6 or 7 months).
  3. The Specific Attachment Phase (about 7 to 9 months).
  4. The Phase of Multiple Attachments.

In actuality, Schaffer and Emerson did not provide such a clear list. On pages 67–68 of their article they wrote:

‘A three-stage development of early social behaviour is thus envisaged. In the first stage, an asocial one, the individual seeks optimal aroused (sic) equally from all aspects of his environment. In time he learns to single out human beings as particularly satisfying objects and makes special efforts to seek their proximity. Thus we have a second stage, a presocial one, which is characterised by indiscriminate attachment behaviour. Finally a further narrowing down occurs, and in the last and only truly social stage attachments are formed to specific individuals.’

In the Complete Companions textbook I gave stages 1 and 2 different names than those used in Shaffer’s textbook and in Schaffer and Emerson’s article:

  • Stage 1: I used ‘indiscriminate’ because I felt that better represented the description of the behaviours. During the first two months, as anyone with close experience of infants will tell you, infants do show signs of recognising familiar people and do show responsiveness to smiles. They are quite sociable. So, I felt ‘asocial’ was wrong.
  • Stage 2: I used ‘the beginnings of attachment’ – instead of ‘presocial’ or ‘indiscriminate’ because this is the stage at which infants start to show signs of attachment, e.g. with stranger anxiety. Again, this was related to my own experiences and indeed David R. Shaffer says, in his description of this stage, that ‘3- to 6-month-olds reserve their biggest grins for familiar companions’.

However, the variation in stage names across different books is clearly confusing so we are changing to be in line with most other psychology textbooks. The descriptions remain pretty much the same.

Year 2 (A Level options): Chapter 5 Cognition and development

Autism is a developmental disorder included in the specification and covered on pages 126–127. Following advice from Autistic UK, we have made a change to identity-first language, for example, using the phrase ‘autistic children’ rather than ‘children with autism’, ‘disabled people’ rather than ‘people with disabilities’. In the past person-first language was preferred, which is language that puts a person before their diagnosis, such as being a person with a disability. Identity-first language is language that leads with a person’s diagnosis, such as being a disabled person.

One example of the change on page 126 in the Year 2 textbook is:

The reason for using this test was that autistic adults can pass the Sally–Anne task. The study found that autistic adults had a mean score of 16.3 compared to non-autistic participants with a mean score of 20.3 out of a maximum of 25. This was a statistically significant difference. This suggests that, in general, there is a difference in between autistic and non-autistic people in terms of ToM.

We are also striving to avoid using language that makes judgements about conditions, such as ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. The Disability Language Style Guide is a very helpful and useful resource in this regard.

Cara Flanagan has decades of experience as a teacher and senior examiner and is a widely published educational author, conference organiser and speaker, and CPD trainer.

At Oxford, we’re always learning and seeking to improve our resources. We’re grateful for the feedback we receive from teachers and the insight, experience, and wisdom of a range of experts and organisations. If you’d like to feed back to us about any aspect of Psychology publishing, or would like to collaborate with us, please contact [email protected].

  • Schaffer, H.R. and Emerson, P. (1964) The Development of Social Attachments in Infancy. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 29 (3), 3-77. Download here (registration is free)
  • Shaffer, D.R. (2002) Developmental Psychology, 6th ed. Calif: Wadsworth

Read previous blogs from Oxford Psychology: