Types of Attachment

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  • Created by: Grace
  • Created on: 14-04-14 16:34

Ainsworth et al - The Strange Situation

Method: In a controlled observation, 12-18 month old infants were left in a room with their mother. Eight different scenarios occured, including being approached by a stranger, the infant being left alone, the mother returning, etc. The infants reactions were constantly observed.

Results: About 15% of infants were 'insecure-avoidant' (type A) - they ignored their mother and didn't mind if she left. A stranger could comfort them.
About 70% were 'securely attached' (type B) - content with their mother, upset when she left, happy when she returned and avoided strangers.
About 15% were 'insecure-resistant' (type C) - uneasy around their mother, upset if she left. They resisted strangers and were also hard to comfort when thier mother returned.

Conclusion: Infants showing different reactions to their carers have different types of attachment.

Evaluation: The research method used allowed control of the variables, making results reliable. However, the laboratory-type situation made the study artificial, reducing the ecological validity. Parents may have changed their behaviour as they knew they were being observed, Could have had an effect on the children's behaviour. Also the new situation in the experiment may have had an effect on the children's behaviour - the study might not accurately represent their behaviour in real life. Another problem is that the mother may not have been the child's main attachment figure 

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Van Ijzendoorn & Kroonenberg - Cross-Cultural

Method: Van Ijendoorn and Kroonenberd carried out a meta-analysis of 32 studies of 'the strange situation' in different countries (e.g Japan, Britain, Sweden etc.). They were analysed to find any overall patterns.

Results: The percentages of children classified as secure or insecure were very similar across the countries tested. Secure attachments were the most common type of attachment in the countries studied. Some differences were found in the distribution of insecure attachments. In Western cultures, it was seen that the dominant type of insecure attachment was avoidant. However in non-Western cultures, the dominant type was resistant.

Conclusion: There are cross-cultural similarities in raising children, producing common reactions to the 'strange situation'

Evaluation: Children are brought up in different ways in different cultures. This might result in different types of attachment in different cultures. The 'strange situation' might not be a suitable method for studying cross-cultural attachment. Using a different type of study may have revealed different patterns ot types of attachment in different cultues. The study assumes that different countries are the same thing as different cultures. One problem with the research method is that meta-analyses can hide individual results that show an unusual trend.

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