Edexcel A2 Psychology - Child Psychology: Ainsworth's Strange Situation

  • Created by: Maria
  • Created on: 27-01-10 12:12

Ainsworth’s Strange Situation:

· Ainsworth devised a method which could measure attachment itself. This method is called the ‘strange situation’ which is a form of research methodology based on structured observations. The children’s behaviours were recorded, and from this they were defined as having different attachment types. The situation was the same for each mother and child, due to its structured nature.

· The method itself followed this broad procedure:
Both parent and child enter a room which is set up with toys and chairs. A faint chess
board outline was on the floor in order to accurately establish how far away the child
is from their parent.
The child is allowed to explore the room with no interaction from their parent.
A stranger enters the room and talks to the parent. They then approach the child as the
parent leaves.
The stranger interacts with the child during this period of separation. This is the first
The child’s parent returns, comforts the child and leaves again. This step is the first
reunion and second separation.
The stranger then leaves the room.
The stranger returns and attempts to interact with the child again. The parent is still
The parent returns, greets and picks the child up. The stranger leaves. This is the second
Each of these stages lasts for approximately three minutes, although it is the parent who is ultimately in charge of the timing... The reunions are the most important stages of the test, as the child is defined as having a particular attachment typed based on how they react to their parent’s return.

· The results of Ainsworth’s initial USA procedure found that 70% of children who were tested fell into the ‘securely attached’ type. This attachment type was characterised by distress when the child’s parent left and demanding comfort on her return. According to Ainsworth, securely attached children see their parent as a safe base and experience separation anxiety when they leave. Carers of




Another very useful summary of key information from the same author as the "Edexcel Psychology A2 - Child Psychology: Daycare Research" resource.