Types of attachment

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The Strange Situation

The Strange Situation

Ainsowrth devised the strange situation to be able to test the nature of attachment systematically. The aim wa to see how infants behave under conditions of mild stress and also novelty. Stress is created in the strange situations by the presence of a strange and bu seperation from caregiver. This tests the stranger anxiety and the seperation anxiety respectively. 

1. Parent and infant play
2. Parent sits while infant plays
3. Stranger enters and talks to parent
4. Parent leaves, infant plays, stranger offers comfort if needed
5. Prent returns, greets infant, offers comfort if needed; stranger leaves
6. Parent leaves, infant is alone
7. Stranger enters and offers comfort
8. Parent returns, greets infant, offrs comfort.

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The Strange Situation

Findings from the strange situation
Ainsworth combinded the data from several studies, to make a total of 106 middle-class infants observed in the strange situation. 3 main types of children were found, securely attached (type B), insecure-avoidant (type A), insecure resistant (type C).

1. Secure attachment-
when the mother leaves the child, the child gets separation anxiety, they cry and get distressed. when the mother comes back the child seeks comfort from them.

2. Insecure avoidant-
There is no change in the child's behaviour when the mother leaves them, they are not bothered whether she is present or not, therefore the level of attachment is poor.

3. Insecure resistant-
The child does not trust that the mother will constantly be around, so they stay close to the mother. when the mother leaves, the child gets very upset. and when the mother comes back, the child is angry, and tries to push the mother away or cries or avoids contact for a while etc...   

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Effects of attachment type

Behaviour in later childhood
A numbr of longitudinal studies have demonstrated a link between early attachment experience and later social functioning. Prior and Glaser prove the following summary:

  • Secure attachment is associated with positive outcoes such as less emotional dependence and higher achievement orientation and interpersonal harmony.
  • Avoidant attachment is related to later aggressiveness, and generally negative affect.
  • Resistant attachment is associated with greater anxiet and withdrawn behaviour. 

Adult romantic behaviour
According to Bowlby, later relationships are likely to be a continuation of these attachment styles because the mother's behaviour creates an interal working model of relationships. Hazan and Shaver investigated this hypothesis questions about early experiences, about current love experiences involvements and also about attitude towards love. Hazan and Shaver found that there were characteristics patter of later romantic behaviour associated with each early attachment type. This supports Bowlby's theory, though we can't be certain that early attachment experiences caused later attachment types. 

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