Attachment - Cross-cultural variation

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Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg

Conducted meta-analysis of different strange situations in different countries

Aim: look at different attachment types in a range of cultures

32 cases - all observed mother-infant pairs and classified them into the three attachment types


  • Greater difference in attachment types within the same country than there was between countries - eg. A Japanese sample was more similar to two US samples than another Japanese sample - differences between urban/rural samples
  • Overall secure attachment was most common across all countries
  • Insecure-resistant most common in Japan and Israel
  • Insecure-avoidant most common in Germany

Concluded that attachment type broadly the same across cultures - variations due to different parenting techniques

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Evalutation - Ethnocentric

Point: Strange situation is ethnocentric - designed by Americans for middle class American mothers and children

Children raised differently will respond differently to stages in strange situation

eg. Takahashi - Japanese children were so distressed when left alone procedure had to stop so classified as insecure-resistant, despite being secure up to that point.

Japanese children not used to being separated at all in early years

Conclusion:Strange situation not valid measure of attachment type - measures fear in these children rather than attachment

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Evaluation - Ethics

  • Raises ethical issues as the strange situation causes distress for the infants
  • eg. 90% of the procedures had to be stopped in the experiments envolving Japanese infants - when infant was left alone as were crying 'desparately'
  • Comment: Strange situation was meant to be constructed to cause no more stress than encountered in every day life - Japanese infants never left alone so was more stress than use to. Caused terror.
  • Breaches protection of Pps
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