Ainsworth - A Strange Situation

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  • Created by: Becky
  • Created on: 19-05-13 14:42

Ainsworth - A Strange Situation

Aim: To produce a method of assessing quality of attachment by placing infant in a situation of mild stress (encouraging seeking comfort behaviour) and of novelty (encouraging exploration behaviour).These two behaviours are indicators of quality of attachment. 


  • 100 middle-class American infants and mothers took part. 
  • A method of controlled obersation was used. This meant observing infants with their mothers in a set of predetermined activites. All sessions, exculding the first one, took three minutes. 
    • Mother and child are in the room together in room, child can play with the toys left in the room.
    • Stranger enters the room and attempts to interact with the child.
    • Mother leaves the room, stranger still interacting with the child.
    • Mother returns to the room, stranger leaves.
    • Mother leaves the room again, child left on their own.
    • Stranger returns and attempts again to interact with the child. 
    • Mother returns, stranger leaves again. 
  • Observers record the behaviour of bother mother and child, in particular the following:
    • Seperation anxiety: the unease the infant shows when the caregiver leaves.
    • Infant's willingness to explore.
    • Stranger anxiety: infant's response to presence of


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