The strange situation
The research was looking at investigating the differences shown in attachments between infants and their primary caregivers (parents/ guardians etc. ). How was the experiment carried out? Who was involved? The experiment involved using a toddler, the child’s guardian and a stranger to see the child’s reaction to the different situations using the following stages: Results from experiment: Three different attachment styles were discovered by Ainsworth: secure, insecure, voidant and insecure ambivalent.
The attachment style that the child developed was dependant on how the child and mother interacted in the early stages of the child’s life: Conclusion: It was concluded from these results that the classification of the child depends on the treatment trom the guardian/ parent: Secure attachment: It is likely that it t child has secure attachment the primary care was responsive and sensitive to the child’s needs.
Insecure ambivalent attachment: If the child has insecure ambivalent ttachment the guardian/ parent was most probably inconsistent in attending to the child’s needs; sometimes the child was attended to and sometimes ignored.
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Avoidant attachment: A child with avoidant attachment behaviour would usually be a product of unresponsive care so the child becomes wise to the fact that communication is futile as there will be no response to meet their needs.
Evaluation: Mary Ainsworth’s ‘strange situation’ classification was deemed to have good reliability, becoming the accepted worldwide methodology for measuring attachment; and roved to have good consistency when a study in Germany showed that 78% of the children tested aged 1 years then again at 6 years were placed under the same classification. However, the classification has been questioned about the fact that the classification only identifies the attachment to the mother, whereas the child may have different type of attachment with father, grandmother etc.
This is criticised as it is only measuring a specific attachment to the Mother, rather than a general attachment style. The study has also been thought to be unethical, breaking the ethical guideline protection of participants, as the study can be distressing for the child considering that the child experiences separation from mother as well as stranger anxiety. In addition, the study has been thought to have low ecological validity as the child is in an unusual situation and an artificial environment. Seeing as the procedure of the mother and stranger in a scripted situation, this may somehow change the outcome of the child’s behaviour.