The strange situation (Mary Ainsworth)

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Mary Ainsworth found that most children in the USA showed secure attachment, but some showed insecure attachment (avoidant or resistant). Ainsworth devised a method of controlled observation called the strange situation - to see how infants behaved under conditions of mild stress and novelty. 

Stress was created by the presence of a stranger (to test stranger anxiety) and by separation from a caregiver (to test separation anxiety), observers also recorded reunion behaviour. 

The aim was to test the quality of the infants attachment by looking at exploration, reactions to a stranger and reunion with mother. 

Procedure lasted around 20 minutes and was used with about 100 middle class USA infants from 12 to 18 months old. 

1) CAREGIVER, INFANT & OBSERVER - OBSERVER SHOWS CAREGIVER AND INFANT THE ROOM AND THEN LEAVES,

2) CAREGIVER AND INFANT - CAREGIVER SITS AND WATCHES, INFANT EXPLORES AND PLAYS WITH TOYS.

3) STRANGER, CAREGIVER, INFANT - STRANGER ENTERS, SILENT AT FIRST, THEN TALKS TO THE CAREGIVER, THEN INTERACTS WITH THE INFANT. CAREGIVER LEAVES THE ROOM QUIETLY.

4) STRANGER AND INFANT - FIRST SEPARATION FROM CAREGIVER. STRANGER INTERACTS, TALKS AND PLAYS WITH THE INFANT.

5) CAREGIVER AND INFANT - FIRST REUNION. CAREGIVER RETURNS, STRANGER LEAVES. CAREGIVER GREETS, COMFORTS AND TRIES TO SETTLE INFANT. CAREGIVER LEAVES AND SAYS GOODBYE.

6) INFANT ALONE - SECOND SEPARATION. INFANT LEFT ALONE IN THE ROOM.

7) STRANGER AND INFANT - CONTINUATION OF SECOND SEPARATION. STRANGER ENTERS AND INTERACTS WITH INFANT.

8) CAREGIVER AND INFANT - SECOND REUNION. CAREGIVER ENTERS, GREETS INFANT AND PICKS…

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