• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Evaluate the 'Strange Situation'.

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate the 'Strange Situation'. In 1971 and 1978, Ainsworth reported her findings from the Baltimore study of attachment. Ainsworth's main interest was in individual differences between mother-child pairs regarding the quality of their attachment. The Baltimore study was longitudinal. Ainsworth et al visited 26 mother-infant pairs at home every 3-4 weeks for the baby's first year of life. Each lasted 3-4 hours. Both interviews and naturalistic observation were used. But observation played a very strong role. To make sense of the vast amount of data collected for each pair, Ainsworth needed some standard against which to compare their observations. The STRANGE SITUATION was the standard they chose. Ainsworth and Wittig (1969) had devised this earlier. It was made of 8 episodes and each one lasted about 3 minutes, excluding the first one which lasted about 30 seconds. The 8 episodes of the Strange Situation: Episode Persons present Brief description 1 Mother, baby, observer Observer introduces mother and baby to experimental room, then leaves 2 Mother, baby Mother is passive whilst baby explores 3 Stranger, mother, baby Stranger enters. 1st minute: stranger silent. 2nd minute: stranger converses with mother. 3rd minute: stranger approaches baby. After 3 minutes mother leaves unobtrusively 4 Stranger, baby 1st separation episode. Stranger's behaviour is geared to the baby's. 5 Mother, baby 1st reunion episode. Stranger leaves. ...read more.


According to Lamb et al. (1985), the Strange Situation is "... the most powerful and useful procedure ever available for the study of socioemotional development in infancy". Ainsworth et al.'s classification system is generally regarded as very reliable and has been used in a large number of studies in which attachment has been the major dependent variable. A child's attachment style my change though as shown by Vaughn et al (1979). These are not the only attachment types that have been identified. Main (1991) found that in a series of more recent studies (for example Main et al. 1985), many children proved to be unclassifiable in terms of type A, B and C, they showed a mixture of disorientated and disorganised behaviours. This type was classified as type D behaviour called - insecure-disorganised/disorientated (Main, 1991). One interpretation of attachment type (which is based on the Strange Situation) is that it measures a fixed characteristic of the child. But if the family circumstances change, for example mothers stress levels rise, this child may be classed differently. This couldn't happen if attachment types were a permanent characteristic. Similarly, attachments to mothers and fathers are independent. So one child could be securely attached to its mother, but insecurely attached to its father. This shows that attachment patterns derived from the Strange Situation reflect qualities of distinct relationships, rather than characteristics of the child. ...read more.


It is true that mothers do leave their children for brief periods in different settings, often with strangers, e.g. babysitters. However, any method used in research which deliberately exposes children to stress is ethically questionable. The strange situation has also been criticised for not being realistic. This is because it is not true to life, and it does not reflect everyday situations. It may not actually be possible to generalise the findings to real-life settings. This also means that the strange situation lacks ecological validity. The classification of attachment may actually reflect the strange situation and not the actual attachment. Not all evaluations of the strange situations have been negative though. The strange situation is easily and efficiently replicated. As it is a systematic procedure, the experiment can be repeated under the same conditions. This means that in all experiments the infants are responding to a similar situation. Differences in their behaviour are not then due to differences in experiment. The experiment gives lots of different measures for assessing the attachment of a child to its mother. This is important as a single measure could give a false impression. Research also shows that different types of attachment may have different effects on a child's development. If this is so then it gives a real point to studying and classifying attachment patterns from 12 to 18 months. Jo-Anne Cromack ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Strange situation has been used in many different countries to investigate attachments." Outline ...

    The SS had been devised earlier by Ainsworth & Wittig (1969). They wanted to study how the baby's tendencies towards attachment and exploration interact under conditions of low and high stress. They believed that a balance between these two systems could be observed more easily in an unfamiliar environment.

  2. Task1 Counselling 1aPhysical signs and symptoms of stress

    Penalties imposed can range from 6 months to 5 years imprisonment, but its important to note that the youth court will manage cases where individuals are aged between 15-18 year olds and can only impose a maximum custodial sentence of 6 months.


    Reflecting on the teaching session, Rachel and I felt that it went well. Rachel expressed a keen interest in the skill throughout the experience and was motivated to learn and add to her existing knowledge of wound care. I perceived the session to be adequately planned and prepared for and

  2. Psychology - Stress

    work draws attention to the role of exercise and social support in the management of stress. However, Kobasa's work has been heavily criticised firstly because there have been few studies since showing the effectiveness of hardiness training. The sample Kobasa used in his work tended to be white middle-class business

  1. Psychology Cae Studies

    The numbers represented awards of real money. Please study and understand this table. Groups Experiment2 : - Prefer Klee or Prefer Kandinsky Remember the boys were shown 12 paintings by both painters and were randomly assigned to different groups even though they were told assignment was because of painting preference.

  2. Attachment and Separation.

    Infants generally do not turn to others for help and support in the absence of their primary caregivers. Infants who have lost their primary caregivers often cannot be comforted by social workers, foster parents, or others. 4. If separation occurs during the first year, it can interfere with the development

  1. "Hieroglyphics" by Anne Donovan.

    stayed in Ancient Egypt, stuck in a coarner a the room wi a pile a librybooks round me, drawing they wee sideways people". This did not help Mary whatsoever and by separating her from her classmates her sociability could have been affected and her education would also suffer from missing parts of the course.

  2. Job stress

    Women and men reported similar amounts of conflicts. Women heading one-parent families reported conflict somewhat less often than women or men in two-parent families, parents reported more conflict than childless couples, and parents of preschoolers reported more conflicts than parents with school-age children. Secondly her age was associated with higher vulnerability to stressors. At stated by Mclean (1979)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work