Ainsworth's Strange Situation

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The Process

1. 30 seconds- obsevred introuduces mother and baby to experimental room and leaves.

2. 3 minutes- mother remains passive while baby explores (safe base).

3. 3 minutes- strnager eneters, is silent for 1 minute, converses with mother for 1 minute, apporaches babdy for 1 minute. Mother leaves unobtrusively ate the end of 3 minutes.

4. 3 minutes- strnager responds to baby, playing, soothing as appropiate (stranger anxiety). 

5. 3 minutes- mother reneters, comforts baby, then settles baby in play again, then leaves saying 'bye bye' to baby (joy on reunion). 

6. 3 miniues- baby alone (separation anxiety).

7. 3 minutes- stranger enetrs room and interacts with baby.

8. 3 minutes- mother returns, greets baby and picks it up. Stranger leaves unobtrusively. 

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  • 26 infants
  • Lab setting.
  • Controlled observation- the sequence is the same for all children.
  • 12-18 month old infants.
  • Observers record various pieces of information about the child's behaviour including their: Willingness to explore.
    Emotional reponses to their caregivers and strangers.
    How their play is affected. 
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How is Attachment Style Acquired?

  • Attachment type depends on exactly how the mother interacts with her child.
  • Mixture of temperamental facotrs and caregiver responsiveness. 

Ainsworths's Sensitivity Hypothesis:

  • Quality of the care given by the primary caregiver is good (highly responsive to the baby's needs) the attatchment will be stronger.
  • Highly responsive care leads to secure attatchment. This becomes a characteristics of the child which is stable and determines the way they realte to all people (internal working model).
  • This puts too much emphasis on the waulity if parenting. 

Kagan's Infant temperament Hypothesis:

  • AS is determind by innate differences in infant temperament.
  • Some babies are more irritiable, anxious etc
  • Anxious babies will have insecure attatchment regardless of the quality of parenting they recieve. 
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Evaluation of Strange Situation

  • The sample was too small to reach reliable conclusions. However the ** has be replicated many times and it is broadly possible to organise children into 3 AS. 
  • The setting was unnatural. It lacks ecological vlaidity because the behaviours of a child under stress in a strange environment may not be an accurate and valid reflection of *** they behave at home. 
    Also it only meausres one relationship which is ok if it is the pirmary relationship.
  • Cultural bias and ethnocentricity. AS were desribed on the basis of research carried out with American infants so some argue that the ** can only be used in US or Western socities. In other cultures children are parented in different ways and behaviours such as stranger anxiety may indicate different things.
  • Measurement at one point in time. It is not clear that the AS classifcation a child is given is stable over time. Stability is affected when the family exepreinces major life chnages (Vaughan et al).
  • Ethical issues because it causes the infant distress. However the procdures is ended if the distress levels are too high
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Evaluation of Attachment Style

Is attatchment style stable over time?

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