Ainsworth's the strange Situation

  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 11-01-11 20:30

Mary Ainsworth

  • deveoped the system of attachment types
  • Developed 'the Strange Situation'  (a lab experiment) to measure the security of attachment a child displays towards it's primary carer
  • Ainsworth proposed: 'maternal sensitivity hypothesis' which suggests how well the child is attached depends on the mother's ability to respond to the baby's non verbal signals
  • Ainsworth also believed attachments stayed constant throughout a child's life and would affect their future relationships.

Procedure: The Strange Situation (8 stages):

1) Child and carer placed in an empty room. The child is free to explore

2) a stranger then enters the room and talks briefly to the mother

3) stranger attempts to play and talk with the child

4) Mother leaves the room and baby is left alone with the stranger. Stranger tries to comfort them.

5) The mother returns to the room and the stranger leaves

6)the mother leaves the room and the child is left alone

7) the stranger returns to the room and tries to comfort the child

8) mother re-enters the room and the stranger leaves


  • This procedure allowed Ainsworth to look at: stranger anxiety, seperation anxiety and reunion behaviour.
  • This led…


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