Cultural Variations in Attachment

AO1 + AO2

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 26-11-09 18:41


Cultural differences in childrearing practices may have an effect on attachment.

  • In Japan it is rare to leave an infant alone and their mothers rarely leave them in the care of others.
  • In Israli Kibbutzim the infants have very little contact with strangers as the self contained community is like a large extended family.
  • In Germany, the parent's value independance. Some of the behaviour in the strange situation which is supposed to indicate secure attachment is seen by German parents as 'clingy'.
1 of 8

Cross-cultural Variations

Cross-cultural Variations:

the ways members of a society (or culture) vary in terms of their social practices (child rearing). These variations, in turn, can effect infant development and behaviour. This can lead to cultural differences in attachment type.

2 of 8

AO1: Research to show cross-cultural differences i

Grossman et al (1985) used the Strange situation to test German children.

Grossman found 49% of attachments were classified as insecure-avoidant, and only 33% secure (compared to 22% insecure avoidant and 66% secure in America). Grossman concluded that there are cross-cultural variations in attachment.

Grossman's concluded that there are cross-cultural 'differences'.

3 of 8

AO1: Research to show cross-cultural similarities

Van Izjendoorn and Kroonenbery (1988) conducted a meta-analysis of the findings from 32 studies of attachment behaviour including over 2000 strange situation classifications in 8 different countries. They found that differences between cultures were small. Secure attachment was the most common attachment type. Insecure-avoidant attachment was the next common (except in Israel and Japan) and insecure-resistant was the least common.

This strongly suggests that there are cross-cultural similarities rather than differences or variations.

4 of 8

AO2: Evaluation of Cross-cultural Variations Resea

The 'Strange Situation' is very easy to replicate cross-culturally:

This means that many psychologists have used the 'Strange Situation', not only in Western cultures like America and Germany but in a wide range of other cultures as well.

For example, the same settings and methodology have been replicated in Eastern cultures such as Japan.

This is positive because it shows that the methodology is a useful tool that is easy to replicate and has demonstrated variations both within and between cultures.

5 of 8

AO2: Evaluation of Cross-cultural Variations Resea

However, comparing cultures using the same 'Strange Situation' attachment behaviour interpretations may be 'ethnocentric'.

The principles behind the 'Strange Situation' are that the behaviour of all children in all cultures can be interpreted from the same viewpoint but this may not be the case.

E.g. in Germany, 'insecure-avoidant' behaviour reflects specific encouragement towards independance in the child, and a move away from 'clingy' behaviour (a German cultural value). But as the 'secure' attachment type is viewed as the most desirable in Western cultures, then German children will be viewed by westerners as not being as well 'developed' as a securly attached child.

This is a problem as it makes a judgement about cultural values suggesting that some are better than others.

6 of 8

AO2: Evaluation of Cross-cultural Variations Resea

Another weakness is that it takes place in an artificial environment.

This means that the setting might cause unnatural behaviour.

For example, theres many changes in a short space of time.

This is problematic because it reduces the ecological validity.

7 of 8



  • Grossman et al
  • Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg


  • Easy to replicate
  • Ethnocentric
  • Artificial Setting
8 of 8




These are really helpful as you look in depth at an area that can be overlooked. Good use of studies and key terms too and well presented.

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »