Types of Attachment
There are three kinds of attachment that Mary Ainsworth found in her strange situation study. The study was a replicable test to see the relationship between mother and infant.
Ainsworth conducted a study on 100 middle class families. She put the mother and infant in a room with toys and a one way mirror window. A stranger then entered the room, spoke to mother and left. The mother then left the room. The stranger enters the room. The stranger leaves so the baby is alone. The mother re-enters the room. The child is given the opportunity to investigate the toys. The researchers were looking to see separation anxiety, stranger anxiety and the reunion behaviour of the child.
Ainsworth found there were three kinds of attachment…
Secure attachment-The infant was subdued but not saddened when the mother left the room. The infant was uneasy in the presence of a stranger and could not be comforted by them. When the Mother re-entered the child showed signs of happiness and comfortable. The infant would happily investigate toys but used the Mother as a safe base. 66% of the infants showed this attachment type.
Insecure resistant- In this case the infants showed distress when they were left alone and were openly distressed in the presence of a stranger. When the mother returned they rejected the mother and could not be comforted by her. The infant didn’t use the mother as a safe base to roam around but stayed close to her. 12% of the infants showed this attachment type.
Insecure avoidant-A third group of infants was noticed. These infants were unconcerned by the mothers absence. They were avoidant of the mother when she re-entered the room and showed no interest in the stranger. The infant was happy to explore the room alone and didn’t need the mother as a safe base. 22% of the infants observed had this type of attachment.
The study showed significant individual differences between infants that can be represented using three broad types of attachment. It also showed that most North American middle class children were securely attached. The mothers behaviour obviously affects the child’s ability to make an attachment.
+Research has confirmed the usefulness of the strange situation and the attachment types.
-The study lacks ecological validity
-The study has no generalisability as all of the participants were middle class, white, north American families.
Causes of attachment
Ainsworth suggested attachments are the result of mothers being sensitive to children’s needs. This was supported in a study where it was found that mothers who tend to their children’s needs had a stronger relationship than those who weren’t always there for the child in the first month. Other explanations are that there is an innate ability to be friendly that a child is born with, therefore they are more likely to make strong secure attachments with their mother.
Cultural Variations in attachment
Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg conducted a study into cross cultural…