Essay Outline and Evaluate Strange Situation

740 Words Jan 7th, 2014 3 Pages
The security of attachment in infants was investigated by Mary Ainsworth in the 'strange situation' study, in order to determine the nature of attachment behaviours and styles of attachment. In the ‘strange situation’, infants and their mothers were observed in a range of situations, which allowed the researcher to see the different types of behaviours shown.
The infants were observed through video cameras in a purpose-built laboratory playroom with their mothers. The room contained two comfortable chairs and a play area with a set of toys suitable for young children. The procedure in Ainsworth’s research consisted of a series of situations, which were standardised for all the infants who took part.
1. Mother and infant enter the room.
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One key strength of the strange situation procedure is the fact it was a standardised procedure. This means Ainsworth repeated her observation numerous times, keeping it the exactly the same. This allows other psychologists to do test re-tests (can repeat the observation).
Warner et al (1994) tested the study when children were one and again at 6 and it was found that 78% of the children had the same attachment type that they had a one. This therefore gives the study high reliability.

On other hand a criticism is that, the research could lack validity because the experiment is conducted in a controlled setting which means that it lacks ecological validity. This may include issues such as Ainsworth only measured the child’s attachment to the mother and then generalised it to every other attachment the child makes e.g. father, grandparent, the observation does not represent real life because in a real life situation you would not leave your child with a stranger and the infant might not display typical behaviours e.g. infant might be used to similar settings like a doctors waiting room where there would be chairs, people in and out and a box of toys.
Furthermore the study has low internal validity. As Ainsworth assumes all infants are going to fit into three categories of attachment. Mary Main (1986) identified a fourth category of attachment – Type D which supports the criticism made that some infants may not fit into

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