The Strange Situation - Mary Ainsworth (1978)

  • Created by: joannab
  • Created on: 04-06-15 14:45

The aim is to measure attachment types, between a mother and her child.

She used a structured, overt observation but a lab experiment, therefore controls all extraneous variables.

She used a sample of 100 middle class American infants, aged 12-18 months, and their mothers. 


1) Mother and baby enter the room. Secure base.

2) Mother allows baby to explore, not interacting with them. Secure base.

3) The stranger enters, stays quiet, but then starts talking to the mother. He/she then apporaches the baby, and the mother quietly leaves. Stranger anxiety and seperation anxiety.

4) The stranger tries to interract with the baby for 3 minutes maximum, or less if the baby is distressed. Stranger anxiety.

5) The mother comes and comforts the baby, settles them down, and then leaves again. Reunion behaviour and seperation anxiety.

6) The stranger then leaves. Seperation


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