Attachment - The Strange Situation: assessing quality of child-caregiver…
Attachment - The Strange Situation
: assessing quality of child-caregiver attachment.
in a lab with a two-way mirror through which psychologists can observe infant's behaviour.
Five categories used to judge attachment - well attached infants...
are confident to explore, using caregiver as point of safety (
exploration and secure-base behaviour
are enthusiastic in their
response to reunion with caregiver after separation
stay close to caregiver (
- distinct patterns in way infants behaved, three main types of attachment
Insecure-avoidant (Type A)
- 22% of British toddlers
Shows little or no separation or stranger anxiety
Does not require comfort and reunion stage
Child explores freely but does not seek proximity (no secure base)
Insecure-resistant (Type C)
- 12% of British toddlers
Shows considerable separation and stranger anxiety
Resists comfort when reunited with caregiver
Child explores less and seeks greater proximity
Secure (Type B)
- 66% of British toddlers
Moderate separation and stranger anxiety
Requires and accepts comfort from caregiver on reunion
Happy to explore but seeks proximity with caregiver (secure base)
- each lasting three minutes
Caregiver returns and stranger leaves
- reunion behaviour and exploration and secure base
- separation anxiety
Caregiver leaves child and stranger alone
- stranger and separation anxiety
- stranger anxiety
Stranger comes in and tries to interact
- stranger anxiety
- reunion behaviour
Child is encouraged to explore
- exploration and secure base
May be culture-bound
- might not have the same meaning in countries outside Western Europe and the USA.
Cultural differences mean children respond differently, and caregivers behave differently
. E.g. Japanese mothers are rarely separated from infants, so infants show high levels of separation anxiety when they are.
Temperament may be a confounding variable
- Kagan suggests that instead of quality of attachment,
temperament is a more important influence on behaviour in the Strange Situation
. Challenges validity of Strange Situation because its intention is to assess quality of attachment, not temperament of child.
Very good inter-rater reliability
- different observers watching the same children generally agree on attachment type. Probably because it happens under controlled conditions and behavioural categories are easy to observe.
We can be confident that attachment type given is not dependent on the observer.
May be other attachment types
- Main and Solomon pointed out that some children show atypical attachments that do not fit with types A, B or C. This is
disorganised attachment, a mix of avoidant and resistant behaviours
. Challenges Ainsworth's initial notion of attachment types and could question the usefulness of the Strange Situation for studying attachment.
Predictive validity of attachment types
- attachment types predict later development (
secure attachments typically lead to greater success at school and more lasting romantic relationships, insecure-resistant attachments lead to bullying and adult mental health problems
). Evidence for validity of concept.