Mary Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory

emphasized the importance of early relationships built on John Bowlby’s work Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Strange Situation Assessment

a researcher observes a child’s reactions when a mother briefly leaves her child alone in an unfamiliar room. The way the baby reacts in presence of a stranger can tell us about the attachment style

Attachment Styles

Secure attachment: Securely attached children seek comfort when frightened and prefer parents to strangers. Insecure-avoidant attachment: Anxiously attached children are wary of strangers, exhibit great distress when a parent leaves, but are not comforted by a parent’s return. Insecure-resistant attachment: Avoidantly attached children show little preference for parents over strangers and seek little comfort from their caregivers.

Separation AnxietyDistressed when mother leavesIntense distress when the mother leavesNo sign of distress when the the mother leaves
Stranger AnxietyAvoidant of stranger when alone, but friendly when the mother is presentThe infant avoids the stranger – shows fear of the strangerThe infant is okay with the stranger and plays normally when the stranger is present
Reunion behaviorPositive and happy when mother returnsThe infant approaches the mother, but resists contact, may even push her awayThe Infant shows little interest when the mother returns
OtherUses the mother as a safe base to explore their environmentThe infant cries more and explores less than the other two typesThe mother and stranger are able to comfort the infant equally well
% of infants70%15%15%