Discuss research into different types of attachment

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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. With respect to the Strange Situation, Ainsworth found out that there were three distinct type of attachment. One of these being securely attached; these infants were in a happy relation with the caregiver, however were distressed by the presence of the stranger. On reunion, they greeted the caregiver happily. They used the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore, thus enabling to function them to function independently. The second type of attachment is insecure- avoidant, these infants avoided social interaction and intimacy. They also seemed unaffected by separation and reunion. Lastly, the third type was the insecure- resistant type, these infants were intensely distressed by the separation of the caregiver, however rejected the caregiver on reunion.

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Ainsworth’s Strange Situation has provided a mean through which different attachment types can be studied and later be correlated to other behaviours in the future as done by Prior and Glaser, who conducted longitudinal studies and found a link between the different attachment types and their effects on behaviour in later childhood. 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 ...

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