In psychology, we always ask questions such as: why do people behave in a certain way? Are we born with certain biological traits? Does our environment shape who we become? One way of answering these questions is by looking at Attachment Theory. Psychologist Mary Ainsworth studied the quality of children’s attachment to the caregiver. Attachment is the positive emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular special individual. A child experiences pleasure and comfort in their presence. Mary created an experiment called The Stranger Situation Paradigm to assess children’s various attachment styles. Originally, there were three attachment styles:
•Secure– secure, explorative and happy.
•Insecure/ Avoidant– Not very explorative and emotionally distant.
•Insecure/ Ambivalent– Anxious, insecure and angry.
What is fascinating about this study is we can understand from observing the child and caregiver if they have formed a well adjusted bond. Watch this video to understand how this study works.
The Stranger Situation experiment
Video courtesy of youtube
After watching this video, what attachment style do you think you might have had as a child? Do you think this affected your relationships as you got older?
If this topic interests you (like it has me) then check out this really good article on Mary Ainsworth and all of the work she has done with child psychology through the course of her career.