Ainsworth's Strange Situation

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  • Key Study: Ainsworth's strange Situation:
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  • Ainsworth developed the Strange Situation as a method to asses the quality of a child's attachment to a caregiver. It is a controlled observation procedure in a lab (a controlled environment) with a 2-way mirror through which psychologists can observe an infant's behaviour. 
  • Procedure - There are 5 categories used to judge attachment quality:
  • 1) proximity seeking: well attached infants stay close to caregiver.
  • 2) Exploration and secure-base behaviour: good attachment makes a child confident to explore, using the caregiver as a point of safety.
  • 3) Stranger Anxiety: displayed by well-attached infants.
  • 4) Separation anxiety: displayed by well-attached infants.
  • 5) Response to reunion with the caregiver after separation for a short period of time: well-attached children are enthusiastic. 
  • The procedure has 7 'episodes', each lasting 3 minutes:
  • 1) The child is encouraged to explore by the caregiver.
  • 2) Stranger enters and talks to caregiver.
  • 3) Caregiver leaves.
  • 4) The caregiver returns, the stranger leaves.
  • 5) The caregives leaves the child alone.
  • 6) The stranger returns.
  • 7) The caregiver returns.
  • Findings - Ainsworth found distinct patterns in the way that infants behaved. She identified 3 main types of attachment: Secure attachment (Type B) - The children explore happily go go back to the caregiver regularly. They usually show moderate separation distress and moderate stranger anxiety. They require and accept comformt at reunion. About 60-75% of British toddlers are classed as


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