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 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. Mothers of avoidant infants were more rejecting and less attentive to their infants when entering the room. In the end, mothers of resistant infants tended to be occupied with routine activities when holding the infant. Moreover, this has allowed situation where disordered patterns of attachment between the infant and caregiver to be catered for through intervention strategies such as the Circle of Security.
In this project caregivers were taught to be better understanding to infants’ signal of distress. As a result of this project, there was a 45% decrease in the number of caregivers classified as disordered while there was an increase of 8% in infants classified as securely attached.
Although the Strange Situation aims to measure that the attachment type of a child, some argue that this is where study is flawed as it may not measure the type of attachment of an infant but rather the quality of the relationship between the infant and the caregiver. 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.