Ainsworth- The Strange Situation

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The Strange Situation

Aim: Find method for assessing quality of attachment


  • 100 American infants and mothers took part
  • Observers recorded their behaviour based on separation anxiety, infants willingness to explore, stranger anxiety and reunion behaviour
  • Method of controlled observation was developed

1. Mother and child introduced to room

2.A stranger enters, talks to mother, gradually approaching child

3. Mother leaves child alone with stranger and stranger interacts with child

4. Mother returns to greet and comfort child

5. The child is left on its own

6. Stranger returns tries to engage with child

7. Mother returns, greets and picks up child, stranger leaves


  • 1st group of infants explored the room, were subdued when mother left and greeted her positively when she returned, these were securely attached (type B) and 66% of infants in this group, mothers described as being sensitive
  • 2nd group didn't…


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