• Born December 1913
• Died in the year 1999
• Worked with John Bowlby at
Tavistock Clinic in England
where she began her
research of maternal-infant
• Known for her development
of the “Strange Situation”
assessment used to
observe child attachment
• Identified that three main
styles of attachment exist:
Ainsworth used strange situation assessments to
observe maternal-child attachment. During these
assessments, the researcher observes a child’s reaction
when a mother/caregiver leaves a child alone in an
unfamiliar room and setting. This assessment was used to
observe the behavior of the child that occurs during the
separation and upon the mother’s/caregiver’s return. The
information observed during these assessments can reveal
important information about the attachment that exists
between a mother and child.
1. Caregiver and infant are introduced to the experimental room.
2. Caregiver and infant are left alone. Caregiver does not participate
while infant plays and explores.
3. Stranger enters, converses with parent, then approaches infant.
Caregiver leaves inconspicuously.
4. First separation episode: Stranger's adjusts his behavior to that of the
5. First reunion episode: Caregiver greets and comforts the infant, then
6. Second separation episode: Infant is left alone.
7. Continuation of second separation episode: Stranger enters and
again adjusts his behavior to that of the infant.
8. Second reunion episode: Parent enters, greets infant, and picks up
infant; stranger leaves inconspicuously.
The sense of safety a child
feels with particular adults
according to caregiver's
Ranges from secure to
• Emotional bond
between children and
• The child is extremely
distressed, when the
• Child is anxious of
exploration and of
strangers, even when
the caregiver is present.
• When caregiver
returns, the child will
seek to remain close to
the caregiver, but will be
resentful, and resistant
to caregiver's attention
• Can be a result of a
caregiver who ignores
or tends to the child's
needs according to the
caregiver's own needs
or interest rather than in
response to the child's
• Child will show no
caregiver leave or
• Child may ignore
• Child has little or no
interest in exploring
area or have
• Child will treat
strangers no different
• Can result from
• Ainsworth validated her colleague Mary Main’s modification to
the three known attachment styles.
• Disorganized/disoriented attachment
• An example of this attachment is when a child is upset by the
separation of the primary caregiver. These children tend to
avoid their caregiver when they return at times or may seem
nervous when approaching the caregiver.
• Things to Look for in Disorganized/Disoriented Attachment
• Children rocking back and forth, freezing, throwing themselves
on the floor and/or hitting themselves repeatedly.
• Cherry, Kendra.(2013). Attachment Styles.
Web. 28 Aug. 2013.
• Petersen, S. H., and Wittmer D. S. (2009).Endless Opportunities for Infant
and Toddler Curriculum: A Relationship-based Approach. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Chapter 7: Endless Opportunities for
Attachment and Emotional Development 113-130. Print.
• Main, M. & Morgan, H. (1996). Disorganization and Disorientation in Infant
Strange Situation Behaviors: Phenotypic Resemblance to Dissociative
States. Michelson, L. & Ray W. Handbook of Dissociation:
Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Perspectives. Plenum Press, NY. 107-
Web. 28 Aug. 2013
• Brodie, R.(2012). Mary Ainsworth and Attachment
ainsworth-and-attachment-theory.html Web. 28 Aug.
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