Unit 1: Developmental Psychology (Attachment) - Key Studies

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The Strange Situation: Outline


1. Infant and parent placed in a strange enviroment with a stranger.2. Their intercation in 8 three minute episodes i.e. parent leaves child, child on own with a stanger, parent returns. 4. The study involved 106 middle-class students US infants, a team of observers recorded infants responses to each episode. 


1. 66% of infants displayed secure attachment - willing to explore, high stranger anxiety, easy to soothe, enthusiastic reunion. 

2. 22% were insecure-avoidant - willing to explore, low stranger anxiety, indifferent to parent's departure, avoid contact on reunion. 

3. 12% were insecure resistant - not willing to explore, high stranger anxiety, distressed by parents departure, seek/reject contact reunion. 


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The Strange Situation: Evaluate


Does not actually measure personality quality in an individual - it measures the way two people interact. I.e. one attachment relationship. Attachment type may be sum of many different relationships.


Ainsworth found that mothers of securely attached children were more sensitive and accepting, cooperative and accepting. However maternal reflective thinking has also been labelled as a factor which develops a secure attachment. 

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Cultural Variations: Similarities

Ainsworth's Ugandan Study 

Found various universals in attachment behaviour, e.g. mothers with securely attached children showed greater sensitivity than those insecurely attached. 


Observed members of the Efe, from Zaire. Despite using alternitive childbearing practices at 6 months the infants still displayed one primary attachment. 


Observed infants raised on Israeli in communial childrens homes.They still showed greater attachment to their mothers as they showed greater sensitivity.

Van IJendoorn and Kroonenberg

Meta-Analysis of 32 studies, variation within cultures were 1.5 tunes greater than between cultures suggesting that cultural practives have little influcence on attachment behaviour. 

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Cultural Variations: Differences


Found that a larger proportion of German infants rended to be classified as insecurely, rather than then securely attached than found in the US samples. 


Found that japanese infants showed much higher rates of insecure-resistant attachment - 32% than in most other cultures and no evidence of insecure-avoidant attachment. 

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Cultural Variations: Evaluation

Culture Bias

Rothbaum argued that attachment theory has a strong western bias, reflecting idividualist ideas of the importance of atonomy.  Japs sesitiy leads to dependence, inhibition of emotional expression and less desire to explore. 

Indigenous Theories

Rothbaum argures that attachment theories should be rooted in indifenous culutres but Posada and Jacobs belive there is good evidence to support the universality of core concepts.

Nation Vs Culture 

Within any coutry there are varied cultures yet most reserach defines a culture by its country. This means it lack validity as a varity of cultures have been merged together under one country. 

Cross cultural Similarities and Research 

Mass media may enforce some similarities, imposed etics make the findings meaningless as they assume all cultures are the same - Japanise children never leave their parents so they would be prone to distress.

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