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Discuss research into different types of attachment

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Introduction

´╗┐Discuss research into different types of attachment. (12 marks) Mary Ainsworth is responsible for the original work on attachment types. Ainsworth and her colleagues devised the Strange Situation in order to be able to test the nature of attachment systematically. The aim of the Strange Situation was to observe how infants (aged between 9 and 18 months) behaved under conditions of mild distress. The stress in the Strange Situation was caused by the presence of the stranger and by the separation from the caregiver and therefore allowed stranger anxiety and separation anxiety to be tested. In addition to this, by placing the infant in a novel situation, the Strange Situation also encouraged exploration. The procedure consisted of eight episodes, each lasting 3 minutes long, with each episode designated to a behaviour for example episode 3 the entrance of the stranger was used to measure stranger anxiety. ...read more.

Middle

They found out that securely attached infants grow up to have less emotional dependence and higher achievement orientation, while avoidant infants grow up to be aggressive. Lastly, resistant infants were associated with great anxiety and aggressive behaviour in their later childhood. Furthermore, the Strange Situation has allowed us to look into different factors that influence attachment type of an infant. Whilst studying the nature of attachment, Ainsworth also developed the Maternal Sensitivity Scale to rate mothers? behaviour such as sensitivity to infants? signals, acceptance- rejection, cooperation- interference and accessibility- ignorance. With the help of the scale Ainsworth found key group difference in maternal score in the Strange Situation. Mothers of securely attached infants were sensitive, cooperative and accessible, while on the other hand mothers of insecurely attached infants were less responsive to the crying of their infants. ...read more.

Conclusion

According to the study conducted by Weston and Main infants behave differently depending upon which parent they were with. This implied that the Strange Situation did not measure what it was supposed which ultimately decreased its validity. However, others take the alternative view that the only relationship that matters is that of one?s primary caregiver which is the parent that partakes in the Strange Situation and the attachment with this primary caregiver determines the overall attachment type of the infant. The Strange Situation has also been assessed to be reliable as Ainsworth found 0.94 agreement between the raters when assessing the exploratory behaviour. In addition to the concerns regarding the validity of the study, the Strange Situation also raises ethical issues. Despite Ainsworth claiming that the Strange Situation is not intended to cause more disturbing than ordinary life experiences, 20 % of the infants were highly distressed and cried continuously. This suggests the technique has the potential to cause distress, therefore ethically inappropriate to use with infants. ...read more.

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