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 SS 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 SS 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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