Outline and evaluate research into cross-cultural variations in attachment
Outline and evaluate research into cross-cultural variations in attachment (12)
The aim of Takahashi’s controlled observation was to see if the strange situation, created by Mary Ainsworth in America was appropriate to use for Japanese infants and whether it was a true reflection of their attachment. It tested whether the strange situation was universal to cultures or just to the culture it was developed in (American, white, middle class). Takahashi took 60 infants from middle class backgrounds in Japan. They were all one year of age and had been raised at home. Takahashi found that 68% on infants were securely attached however 32% were resistant-insecure. This was much higher than the American average. The Japanese infants were found to be more disturbed when left alone than the American infants. The infant alone step of the strange situation was stopped for 90% of Japanese infants because the baby became so distressed. If infants had no been so distressed then possible more than 80% of them would have been classified as securely attached. This study concluded that there are cross cultural variations in how infants respond to separation. Japanese infants often sleep with their parents until the age of two. This for example would make separation more stressful for the infant. The strange situation seemed to test stress in Japanese babies however this was not the original task of the strange situation.
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This study was only carried out on a limited sample of infants. There were only 60 infants all from middle class backgrounds all brought up at home. The study was a parachute study, the whole population of Japan isn't reflected because within Japan there are many sub-cultures. This means the study lacks population validity.
The aim of the Grossman and Grossman study was to look at attachment types amongst German infants. Each infant and mother was observed. Firstly the parent and infant alone, then the stranger joins the parent and infant, the parent leaves infant and stranger alone, parent returns and stranger leaves. The observers looked at the reaction of child when the mother leaves, its reaction to the stranger and on the mothers return. They found that the German infants were more likely to be found avoidant. This is due to German parents encouraging independence.
The study concluded that it may not be appropriate to take the strange situation to other cultures and compare the results. Both studies show that the strange situation has different meanings in different cultures. The study supports the idea of cross cultural variations.
The fact that we do not know how many infants were studied or from what background they came from in the Grossman and Grossman study means that potentially there could be low population validity. This is a strong weakness because the study may have only been on a hand full of children and only on a certain culture within the population. A weakness of the Takahashi study is that only 60 infants were tested in Japan all from middle class backgrounds. The study was a parachute study which means the observation was only ever done in one part of Japan and never repeated. This shows low population validity that does not look at sub-cultures within Japan. An advantage of both is that they are observational studies meaning we can see exactly how the parents and child react and we can see things that would not be possible to see in a questionnaire. Both studies show that the strange situation is not innate and that you need cultural variation of it in order for it to be a true reflection of attachment in that culture.