Separation protest

The Strange Situation test lasts for approximately 20 minutes and was used on American infants aged between 12 and 18 months. It takes place in the laboratory and the method used is controlled observation. The Strange Situation consists of 7 episodes, which involve the infant being separated from his or her caregiver, being with a stranger, and reunion with the caregiver. There are two separations and reunions.

Separation protest, the infant’s willingness to explore, stranger anxiety, and reaction to reunion with the caregiver are the key behaviours used to assess the security/insecurity of the attachment relationship. The Strange Situation demonstrated considerable individual differences in secure and insecure attachment types. Most of the infants displayed behaviour categorized as typical of secure attachment 70% (type B), with 15% anxious/resistant (type C) and 15% anxious/avoidant (type A).

The securely attached infants were distressed when separated from the caregiver, and sought contact and soothing on reunion. Anxious/resistant attachment was characterized by ambivalence and inconsistency, as the infants were very distressed at separation but resisted the caregiver on reunion. Anxious/avoidant attachment was characterized by detachment as the infants did not seek contact with the caregiver and showed little distress at separation. The Strange Situation was created and tested in the USA, which means that it may be culturally biased as it will reflect the norms and values of American culture. The Strange Situation test assumes that behaviour has the same meaning in all cultures, when in fact social constructions of behaviour differ greatly. Thus, the usefulness of the Strange Situation in assessing attachment across cultures may be limited by the subjectivity inherent in observation and interpretation of behaviour. This lack of being able to generalize means that the ecological validity of the Strange Situation must be questioned.

Van IJzendoorn and Kroonenberg aimed to investigate cross-cultural variation in attachment types through a meta-analysis of research, which had studied attachments in other cultures. They compared only the findings of studies that had used the Strange Situation in order to draw inferences about the external validity of this as a measure of attachment to other populations (population validity) and other settings (ecological validity).

A meta-analysis was conducted which compared the findings of 32 studies that had used the Strange Situation to measure attachment and to classify the attachment relationship between the mother and the infant. Three examples of these countries are Germany, Israel and Japan; due to the different methods of child rearing in these countries there are differences in the proportion of children in each of the three categories that arise from the strange situation.

In Germany 49% of children are rated as anxious/avoidant (Grossman et al. 1985). In theory German parents like to keep a greater inter-parental distance than American parents (which the strange situation is based on), they like a child that obeys and doesn’t question. Research has found that there is no evidence that the larger number of anxious/avoidant German children is because German mothers are unresponsive, indifferent or insensitive they merely value independent children that are self-reliant. To a German parent a secure American child would seem to be clingy and spoilt.

In Israel the studies were carried out in Kibbutzim (Sagi 1991), collective farms with between 100 and 2000 members in each. The children spend most of the day and all of the night away from their parents; they are looked after by metapelets in children’s houses. While the child is still breast feeding the mother will visit 4/5 times during the day to feed the child otherwise the only time when the families are together is for 2 hours in the evening after work for quality time. The children spend a lot of time with a large number of other children and because they are never exposed to strangers in the closed environment of the Kibbutzim a large proportion are rated as anxious/resistant.

In Japan child-rearing appears to put greater value on developing close family relationships; young infants are rarely separated from their mothers and the mothers are highly responsive to their needs (Miyake et al. 1985) In addition, greater prominence is placed upon allowing children to solve problems in groups and to identify their own group identity. So when a Japanese child is left on its own in the strange situation it is very distressing for it and so a larger number of Japanese children are rated as anxious/avoidant

The overall consistency in attachment types leads to the conclusion that there may be universal characteristics that underpin infant and caregiver interactions. However, the significant variations demonstrate that universality is limited. Implications include the linking of the variation in attachment to child-rearing practices. Also, the greater variation found within cultures suggests that sub-cultural comparison studies may be more valid than cross-cultural comparisons. The significant differences also question the validity of the Strange Situation.

Bowlby (1953, 1988) claimed that infants need one special attachment relationship which is qualitatively different from all others (monotropy); Schaffer and Emerson (1964) found that though infants did form multiple attachments, they appeared to have one primary attachment. This and the other evidence suggests that, despite having multiple carers, the infants still had one special relationship.

In conclusion it is relatively easy to say that to a large extent there are cross-cultural variations in attachment as shown by the three examples from Van IJzendoorn and Kroonenberg’s study. But the greater variation found within cultures undermines the cross-cultural research as it shows that it is wrong to think of one culture as a whole, and so cross-cultural comparisons based on this assumption lack validity. It is over-simplistic to view Britain or America as one single culture, as within each country there are many sub-cultures that may differ in the nature of attachment types. This means that the findings may not be representative of the culture.

Takahashi (1990) replicated Ainsworth’s strange situation technique in Japan with the aim of investigating cross-cultural differences in attachment. Takahashi wanted to know if the results Ainsworth found in the USA were the same in Japan, thus showing if there was …

An attachment is an affectional tie that binds child and caregiver together for an enduring length of time, (class notes). This essay shall discuss Bowlby`s views on the negative impact of maternal deprivation early on in life; as well as …

Ainsworth – Uganda study- she conducted a 2 year naturalistic observation of mother – infant interactions. Some mothers were more sensitive to their infants needs and they had securely attached infants who cried little and wanted to explore – led …

What has Psychological Research told us About the Development and Variety of Attachment Behaviour in Infants? Evaluate Two Studies in Terms of Methodology and Ecological Validity. Two key investigations into attachment development in infants are the study conducted by Schaffer …

David from Healtheappointments:

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out