Describe and Evalute Ainsworth

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Describe and evaluate Ainsworth's work on attachment (12 marks) In 1978 Ainsworth et al studied the reactions of young children to brief separations from their mother in order to determine the nature of attachment behaviours and types of attachments Ainsworth’s procedure is known as the strange situation. In the study she conducted she use controlled observation infants were exposed to a sequence of 3 minute-episodes. The total observation period lasted for approximately 25 minutes. First the infant and mother were introduced to the observation room by the researcher, then the researcher left the room. After a while a stranger entered and had a brief conversation with the mother. The mother then left quietly, leaving the infant and the stranger together for a maximum of 3 minutes, if the child became very distressed at this point the mother would return earlier than planned. This sequence of evens was then repeated with a further stranger episode. The child’s behaviours were recorded throughout. Using a combination of behavioural measures, mainly proximity seeking and maintenance of proximity, Ainsworth classified infants as securely attached, anxious avoidant or anxious resistant. In the middle class US samples, 65% of infants were categorized as secure with the remainder equally distributed across the other two types. Ainsworth research led her to two conclusions, firstly there are different types of attachments and these types are differentiated in observed attachment behaviours. Secondly, the type of attachment between a mother and child is dependent upon the mother sensitivity and responsiveness to the child. Ainsworth said that an anxious avoidant child ignores their mother, seems indifferent, is easily comforted, they treat mother and stranger the same. A secure child is happy in their mother’s presence, they becomes distressed when mother leaves, they
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