Ainsworth's 'Strange Situations' Cultural Limitations

  • Created by: Hamda
  • Created on: 11-03-14 17:48

Cultural limitations of ‘Strange Situations’ – Ainsworth.

Cross cultural studies are those carried out in more than one culture in order to compare findings.

Ainsworth’s work in Uganda:

·         1963

·         Ainsworth studied 26 families and observed the interactions, watching mother-child relationships.

·         She also interviewed the mothers and gathered data about the mother’s sensitivity.

·         She found that the mothers who knew a lot about their babies when interviewed were sensitive to their infant’s needs.

-          They tended to have children that were securely attached, in that they did not cry much and used their mother as a secure base from which to explore.

-          In contrast, less sensitive mothers had children who cried more and did not explore as much.

Ainsworth’s work in Baltimore:

·         1963

·         26 families were observed, following each family from birth of the child through the first year.

·         Naturalistic observations were used, looking at such issues as face-to-face interactions, responsiveness to crying and physical needs, feeding and close bodily contact.

·         The observations took place in the family home, but the final observation involved the mother and child going to a laboratory to take part in the strange situations procedure, which was devised for that purpose.

·         The main focus of the study was the pattern of interactions in the home and conclusions about the sensitivity of the mother related to the attachment type of the child.

·         Most of the focus was on the results from the strange situations procedure, tending to overshadow the evidence about the mother’s responsiveness.

Comparing Uganda and Baltimore:

·         The general conclusion was that securely attached infants used their mothers as a secure base from which to explore and had sensitive mothers, whereas insecurely attached infants cried more, explored less and had less sensitive mothers.

·         If this was found in 2 different cultures, there may be a biological basis for such attachment types when linked to parenting style and maybe this was true for all cultures.

·         If there were differences in attachment types linked to parenting styles in different cultures, then the links may have come from nurture and the differences in the environment.




Other cross-cultural studies of attachment types:

GERMANY: Grossman et al.

-          1985

-          Used the strange situations procedure.

-          More avoidant attachment types were found than in the Baltimore.

JAPAN: Miyake et al.

-          1985

-          Found more ambivalent types.

ISRAEL (Kibbutzim): Sagi et al.

-          1985

-          Found more ambivalent…


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