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The Strange Situation procedure

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The Strange SituationEdit

Mary Ainsworth is a developmental psychologist who devised a procedure called The Strange Situation, to observe attachment relationships between a human caregiver and child. [1] In this procedure the child is observed playing for 20 minutes while caregivers and strangers enter and leave the room, recreating the flow of the familiar and unfamiliar presence in most children's lives. The situation varies in stressfulness and the child's responses are observed. The child experiences the following situations:

1.Mother and baby enter room.
2.Mother sits quietly on a chair, responding if the infant seeks attention.
3.A stranger enters, talks to the mother then gradually approaches infant with a toy. The mother leaves the room.
4.The stranger leaves the infant playing unless he/she is inactive and then tries to interest the infant in toys. If the infant becomes distressed this episode is ended.
5.Mother enters and waits to see how the infant greets her. The stranger leaves quietly and the mother waits until the baby settles, and then she leaves again.
6.The infant is alone. This episode is curtailed if the infant appears to be distressed.
7.The stranger comes back and repeats episode 3.
8.The mother returns and the stranger goes. Reunion behavior is noted and then the situation is ended.

Two aspects of the child's behavior are observed:

  • The amount of exploration (e.g. playing with new toys) the child engages in throughout, and
  • The child's reactions to the departure and return of its caregiver.

See alsoEdit


ReferencesEdit

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