Types of Attachment - Ainsworth - Strange Situatio
- How infants aged 9-18 months behave under conditions of mild stress + novelty. The stress is created by 1) The presence of a stranger + 2) The separation from the caregiver.
-Stranger Anxiety -Separation Anxiety
- The results, collected from 106 middle class infants helped Ainsworth to identify 3 main types of children, which each possess different attachment characteristics depending on their group.
-Secure Attachment -Insecure Avoidant -Insecure Resistant
- The group that you are in supposedly affects your future relationships/personal emotional state regarding things such aggression and dependence on other people.
- This study also supports Bowlbys theory, such as the internal working model, and the secure base hypothesis. Even so, we cannot make a causal link between attachment type and later attachment experiences. e.g. romantic relationships
Ainsworth's Strange Situation-Procedure
Each episode is around 3 minutes in duration.
- Parent and infant play together -
- The parent watches as the infant plays -Using parent as a secure base
- The stranger enters and talks to the parent -Stranger Anxiety
- The parent leaves and the infant plays,stranger offers comfort if needed -Separation Anxiety
- The parent returns, greets infant and offers comfort, stranger leaves -Reunion
- Parent leaves, infant is alone -Seperation Anxiety
- Stranger enters and offers comfort -Stranger Anxiety
- Parent returns, greets infant, offers comfort -Reunion
The observers recorded the infants behaviour every 15 seconds, out of 5 groups, on a scale of 1-7 depending on the intensity of the behaviour exhibited.
- Proximity/contact seeking behaviours
- Contact maintaining behaviours
- Proximity/interaction avoiding behaviours
- Contact/interaction resisting behaviours
- Search behaviours
Ainsworth Strange Situation-Secure Attachment
Willingness to explore - High Stranger Anxiety - High Seperation Anxiety - Easy to soothe Reunion Behaviour - Enthusiastic % of infants in this category - 66%
- These infants have harmonious and co-operative relationships with their caregiver.
- Not likely to cry upon separation
- When anxious, they seek close bodily contact, but can be soothed easily, and may be reluctant to leave the caregivers side early
- Comfortable w/ social interaction and actively seek it
- Use the caregiver as a secure base and so therefore can function independently
Ainsworth Strange Situation - Insecure Avoidant
Willingness to explore - High
Stranger Anxiety - Low
Separation Anxiety - Indifferent
Reunion behaviour - Avoids contact
% of infants showing this behaviour - 22%
- These children tend to avoid social interaction + intimacy with others
- Showed little response to separation, no proximity seeking behaviour on reunion
- No clinging or resisting behaviour when picked up
- Happy to explore w/ or w/o caregiver
- High levels of anxiety
- May become angry if their attachment needs are not met
Ainsworth Strange Situation-Insecure Resistant
Willingness to explore - Low
Stranger Anxiety - High
Separation Anxiety - Distressed
Reunion Behaviour - Seeks and rejects
Percentage of infants in this category - 12%
- These infants both seek + reject intimacy
- Respond to separation w/ immediate + intense distress
- On reunion, there are conflicting desires between wanting contact w/ the caregiver. (e.g being picked up)
- E.g Some may want to maintain proximity, whilst others may angrily resist.
Evaluation of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
Later childhood behaviours- There are a number of longitudinal studies which have shown a link between attachment type and social functioning later in life. A study by Prior and Glaser has summarised this:
- Secure Attachment-Less emotional dependency, interpersonal harmony
- Avoidant Attachment-Negative effects, e.g. Aggressiveness
- Resistant Attachment-Anxious + withdrawn behaviour
Adult Romantic Relationships
Bowlby states that the mothers behaviour towards the child affects its internal working model about future relationships it may have. Hazan and Shaver's love quiz;
- Used early childhood experiences (identify attachment type)
- Current love experiences + attitudes towards love (internal working model)
Found characteristic patterns between attachment type and romantic behaviour, this supports Bowlby's theory. (We cannot draw causal conclusions though)
Issues of Ainsworth's Strange Situation
- Instead of measuring attachment type, is it just measuring the quality of relationship?
- Research evidence from other studies supports findings, e.g. Hazen and Shavers Love Quiz.
- Observation between different people may be different, decreasing the reliability
-Inter rating reliability has found almost perfect/0.94 agreement between the raters.
Ainsworth's Strange Situation-Other Influencing Fa
Ainsworth created a Maternal Sensitivity Scale, to identify key group differences in the mothers behaviour:
- Securely attached infant mothers-More sensitive, caring,cooperative, accessible
- Insecurely attached infant mothers - Less affectionate + unresponsive to crying
- Avoidant infant mothers-More rejecting, paid less attention to infants
- Resistant infant mothers-Tend to be occupied with other routine activities whilst holding the infant.
Maternal Reflective Functioning
- "The ability to understand what someone else is thinking/feeling"
- Some studies have found a low correlation between maternal sensitivity and strength of attachment
- Maternal reflective thinking rather than sensitivity may be more important in identifying attachment type.