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Flashcards in The Strange Situation Deck (12):

What was the aim of Ainsworth's study?

To assess how infants between 9-18 months old behave under conditions of mild-stress and novelty =, in order to test stranger anxiety, separation protest and the secure base concept


What was Ainsworth's procedure?

Comprised of 8 episodes (each lasting 3 minutes except one lasting 30 seconds)
Every aspect of the participants behaviour is observed and filmed with a mark being given on a scale of 1-7 very 15 seconds - for the categories of behaviour (proximity and contact seeking behaviour, contact maintaining behaviour, proximity and contact avoiding behaviours, contact and interaction resisting behaviours, search behaviours


What are the eight episodes?

1. observer introduces mother and infant to room and leaves 2.mother is passive while infant explores 3. Stranger enters and is silent for a minute, the stranger and mother chat for a minute, the stranger then approaches the infant and the mother leaves 4. the strangers behaviour is geared to that of the infant 5. the stranger leaves and the mother greets and comforts the infant - she engages in play and then leaves 6. the infant is alone for the second separation episode. 7. the stranger enters and gears behaviour towards that of the children 8. the second reunion episode, the mother enters and greets the infant while the stranger leaves.


What were Ainsworth's findings?

Generally infants explored the playroom more enthusiastically when just the mother was present than when the stranger was present or the mother was absent
Reunion behaviours reflected three types of attachment - Type A= insecure avoidant 15%
Type B=securely attached 70%
Type C=insecure resistant 15%


What is insecure avoidant?

Infants are willing to explore, show low stranger anxiety and are unconcerned by separation and avoid contact at the return of the caregiver. Caregivers are indifferent to infants' needs


What is securely attached?

Infants are keen to explore, have high stranger anxiety and are easy to calm and are enthusiastic at the return of the caregiver. Caregivers are sensitive to the infants needs.


What is insecure resistant?

Infants are unwilling to explore, have high stranger anxiety, are upset by separation and seek and reject contact at the return of the caregiver. Caregiver are ambivalent to infants needs.


What can be concluded from Ainsworth's study?

Sensitive responsiveness is the major factor determining the quality of attachments, as sensitive mothers correctly interpret infants' signals and respond appropriately to their needs. Sensitive mothers tend to have securely attached babies, whereas insensitive mothers tend to have insecurely attached babies.


What research does Ainsworth's link with?

Cross cultural patterns of attachment - the meta analysis of the Strange Situation (Van Lizendoorn and Kroonenberg)


What are some strengths of Ainsworth's study?

The identification by Ainsworth of the importance of sensitivity in creating secure attachments is backed up by similar findings from studies using larger samples
The stranger situation testing procedure has become a paradigm - the accepted method of assessing attachment.


What are some weaknesses of Ainsworth's study?

It assumes that attachment types are fixed characteristics of children but classification can change if family circumstances change
It is an artificial way of assessing attachment, as it is a lab experiment with both mother and stranger on a script - lacks ecological validity
Focuses too much on behaviour of infants and not enough on mothers which could distort the results


What are other limitations of Ainsworth's situation?

It has been labelled unethical as purposeful stress is put on infants (justifiable as stress is no greater than that of everyday situations)
Main and Solomon found an additional attachment type - insecure disorganised, displayed by a small number of children whose behaviour was a mixture of other types
May not be suitable for all cultures as it contains elements unfamiliar to some cultures