the strange situation- mary ainsworth

the stange situation conducted by mary ainsworth. cards on the aim, method, what was observed and the results (including the 3 attachment types)

HideShow resource information


to investigate how children react under different conditions of stess and also to new situations

1 of 5


involves 26 middle class, american families, using a controlled observation, lasting 21 minutes with 8 steps:

  • mother, baby, observer- observer introduces them to the room
  • mother, baby- baby plays
  • stranger, mother, baby- stranger enters and after 3 minutes apporaches baby
  • stranger, baby- mother leaves, stranger and baby interact
  • mother, baby- mother returns and comforts baby, stranger leaves
  • baby- mother leaves, baby left alone
  • stranger, baby- stranger enters again
  • mother, baby- mother returns and greets baby, stranger leaves
2 of 5

things observed

  • attachment between mother and baby
  • stranger anxiety
  • separation anxiety
  • reunion behaviour
3 of 5


Type A- insecure resistant (22%)

  • no sign of distress when mother leaves
  • little interest when mother returns
  • okay with stranger and plays normally when stranger is present
  • mother and stranger can comfort the child equally well

Type B- secure (66%)

  • Distressed when mother leaves
  • positive when mother returns
  • avoids stranger when alone, but friendly when mother is present
  • use mother as a safe base to explore envrionment from





4 of 5

results continued

Type C- insecure resistant (12%)

  • intense distress when mother leaves
  • child approaches mother upon return but will resist contact
  • avoids stranger- shows fear of stranger
  • child cries more and explores less than type A and B children



5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »