Types of attachment (Part 3) (Sara)

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  • Created by: Sara
  • Created on: 02-01-11 23:19


Types of attachment

-One way to distinguish between individual infants is in terms of the quality of the attachment bond between them and their mother figure


Mary Ainsworth, who worked with Bowlby in the 1950's, sought to develop a reliable method of measuring quality of attachment using a procedure called the strange situation.

The main reason to need a method of classifying attachment is to be able to measure the effects of attachment on later behaviour- the long- term consequences of early attachment

·     Bowlby claimed that early attachment is important for a healthy psychological development. To test this we need some reliable and valid measure of early attachment. Any form of measurement (Such as a rule) should be reliable or consistent.

·     Studies have found that for a particular child the strange situation classification (SSC) is usually the same for different ages, for example, a study conducted in Germany found 78% of the children were classified in the same way at ages 1 and 6 years (Wartner et al)

·     When differences occur, these are often associated with changes in the form of care, (Family structure).

On the other hand, there are other studes that challenge the meaning or validity of the (SSC). For example, it has been found that infants behave differently depending on who they are with. For example, they may be classified as having a secure attachment to their mother and an avoidant relationship with their father (Lamb 1977).

This suggests that what is being measured is particular attachments rather than a general attachment type. For example, if an infant is securely attached to his mother but appears insecurely attached to it's father, then what can be concluded about the infants attachment type? This leads us to the strange situation only measure particular relationships and not some general characteristic of the child

Individual differences in attachment

    - A study measuring secure and insecure attachment by Ainsworth and Bell (1970) 

AimTo produce a method for assessing quality of attachment by placing aninfant in a situation of mild stress (to encourage the infant to seek comfort)and of novelty (to encourage exploration behaviours) Both comfort seeking and exploration behaviours are indicators of the quality of attachment


  • 100 middle-class American infants and their mothers took part in the study
  • A method of controlled observation was developed. Involved observing infants and their mothers during a set of predetermined activities (The strange situation. All the sessions, except the first one took three minutes.

    1. Mother and child are introduce to the room
    2. Mother and child are left alone and the child can investigate the toys
    3.A stranger enters the room and talks with the mother. The stranger gradually


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