The Strange Situation
Mary Ainsworth (and colleagues) created the Strange Situation to be able to test the nature of attachment systematically.
AIM: To see how infants (9-18 months) behave under conditions of mild stress and possibly novelty.
AIM: To encourage exploration by placing infants in a novel situation and therefore testing the secure base concept
The researcher created stress in the Strange Sitaution through the presence of a stranger and seperation of their caregiver.
This tests stranger anxiety & seperation anxiety
What did they do?
The research room was a 'novel environment' (9x9 foot sqaure marked off into 16 squares)
Episodes (about 3 minutes duration) Behaviour Assessed
1.Parent and infant play None
2.Parent sits while infant plays Uses parent as secure base
3.Stranger enters and talks to parent Stranger Anxiety
4.Parent leaves, infant plays, stranger offers comfort Seperation Anxiety
5.Parent returns, greet infant, offers comfort, stranger leaves Reunion Behaviour
6.Parent Leaves, infant alone Seperation Anxiety
7.Stranger enters and offers comfort Stranger Anxiety
8.Parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort Reunion Behaviour
What did they find?
Ainsworth et al. (1978) Combined the data from several studies, in total 106 middle class infants observed in the Strange Situation.
Exploratory behaviours declined after 2 episodes for all children
They found three main types of children: Secure attachment, Insecure avoidant, insecure resistant
A strong attachment of an infant to their caregiver, which develops as a sensitive responding by the caregiver to the infant's needs.
Those who are securely attached are comfortable with social interaction and intimacy.
Secure atttachment is related to healthy subsequent cognitive and emotional development
Those who are insecure avoidant, are unable to form an attachment at all.
A style of attachment that characterises those children who tend to avoid social interaction and intimacy with others
Those who are insecure resistant, are able to form an attachment but unable to keep them
(ambivalent) attachment characterises those who both seek and reject intimacy and social interaction