Outline and evaluate research into types of attachment
The Strange Situation
Ainsworth & Bell (1970) investigated individual differences in the attachment styles of 100 middle class American infants. They were interested in the frequency of children (how many) that showed each of a range of attachment behaviours. The attachment behaviours studied were comfort seeking, exploration using the mother as a safe base, separation distress, and stranger anxiety. The researchers used a controlled observation technique known as the strange situation.
Procedure for the strange situation:
1. Mother and child are introduced to the room.
2. Mother and child are left alone and the child can investigate the room and toys.
3. A stranger enters the room and talks to the mother before approaching the infant with a toy.
4. Mother leaves the room, and the infant is left alone with the stranger.
5. Mother returns to the room.
6. Mother and stranger both leave the room, and the infant is left alone.
7. The stranger returns and tries to play with the infant.
8. The mother returns to the room and the stranger leaves.
The observers recorded the following behaviours:
Exploration - how willingly the infant explored the room using the mother as a safe base.
Stranger anxiety - how distressed the infant became toward the stranger, both with the mother present and when alone.
Separation distress - how distressed the infant became when the mother left the room.
Reunion behaviour - how the mother was greeted by the infant on her return to the room.
Types of attachment
The original strange situation study (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970) revealed 3 main attachment types:
Securely attached (Type B). 66% of infants were classified as securely attached. They would explore the room freely and with frequent reference to the mother, were mildly distressed when the mother left, and they greeted her warmly when she returned. The mothers reacted sensitively to the infants....