Types of Attachment Mary Ainsworth Mary Ainsworth worked with John Bowlby and conducted research that provided empirical support for his explanation of attachment.
Types of Attachment Mary Ainsworth was interested in individual differences in attachment quality and attachment behaviour. She conducted field research in Uganda that identified that some infants were ‘ securely attached ’ to their mothers and confidently explored their environment.
She observed that some mothers were more sensitive to their babies needs and this influenced the nature and quality of the attachment between the infant and mother. Sensitive mothers had securely attached infants. Securely attached infants, were less anxious, cried less, were more curious about their environment, and appeared more independent.
Mary Ainsworth concluded that the ‘securely attached infants’ used their mothers as a ‘ secure base ’.
The Baltimore Study : Ainsworth et al ., 1971 Ainsworth repeated part of her Ugandan study in an American City. She observed the relationship between American mothers and babies.
Ainsworth designed the “Strange Situation” to assess the nature and quality of the attachment relationship American infants had with their mothers.
The Strange Situation (1969, 1978) This is a really important study its named on the specification so you could get questions on it. Learn it well. Click this for a video
The strange situation has become the standard way for psychologists to asses the quality of a child’s attachment to its primary attachment figure. It is now one of the main way psychologists identify individual differences in attachment.
You need to know the 3 attachment types well. You need to be able to describe them but also to recognise them. What type of behaviours would be typical of a securely attached child? How would you recognise the behaviour of a child with an insecure attachment?
Some of the questions on the exam paper will require you to apply your knowledge not just reproduce it. Below is an example. Andrea has noticed that her two sons are quite different. When she gets home from work the first thing Sam does is to run to her and give her a great big hug, whilst she has to go to find rob to make sure he is okay. When a plumber came to the house the other day Sam was fine with him, but Rob wouldn’t stop crying and appeared scared. (a) Identify: (i) the type of attachment shown by Rob. (1 mark) (II) The type of attachment shown by Sam. (1 mark) (b) Explain how the type of attachment shown by each child could be assessed. (4 marks)
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