The attachment of an infant to his mother is an important part of development. A mother is the first experience of love and care that the child will ever have. This attachment also has important implications in the development of the child and even into adulthood. Children develop styles of attachment depending on their experiences with their caregivers and with their mothers. There are different attachment styles that have been identified in children. The first one is secure attachment, anxious-ambivalent attachment, anxious-avoidant attachment and disorganized attachment (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999).
Theorists and scientists have identified the Strange Situation Protocol to be the most common method in studying attachment in infants. The Strange Situation Protocol is also the most empirically supported method for assessing attachment. Based on the behavior of the infant in relation to their mothers or caregivers, they are grouped into the different kinds of attachment already identified. It should be noted, however, that attachment does not stem from the thinking of the child. Rather, it is a feature of the relationships of the infant to different people. In early childhood, the child may exhibit different kinds of attachment.
Yet beyond the age of four, children may settle for one particular kind of attachment (Greenspan, 1993). Studying Attachment Beyond the Strange Situation Protocol The Strange Situation Protocol (12 months to 20 months) is the most popular method in measuring attachment in children. Pederson and Moran (1996) decided to investigate children’s attachment outside of the Strange Situation. Their study, “Expressions of the attachment relationship outside of the strange situation,” observed 41 preterm infants together with 38 full-term infants at home with their mothers.
These infants were at observed during their 8 months and 12 months of age. They were also observed within the Strange Situation at 18 months. The purpose of the study is to compare the attachment expressions in the two distinct settings. The researchers looked at the four different kinds of attachment relationship expressions. They discovered that there is an 84% concordance in the differences between secure and non-secure attachment relationship at home for infants at 12 months old. Avoidant relationships at this stage also displayed very high concordance.
In addition to this, the study also found out that around 30% of the dyads were classified with ambivalent attachment at home and in the Strange Situation. The mothers in secure relationships at the Strange Situation were more sensitive on the 8 and 12 months as compared to mothers who displayed ambivalent and avoidant relationships. On the other hand, the mothers in non-secure relationships did not display any marked difference in their sensitivity. In the Strange Situation, those infants in secure relationships displayed the characteristics of having effective secure base behavior.
Moreover, they also displayed physical contact and affectionate sharing. During the 12-month home observations, these infants were easier to deal with because they were not very difficult to interact with. The research method of the study was naturalistic as the researchers observed the infants at home. They managed to take note of the way that the infants related with their mothers. At the strange situation, however, the approach became more manipulative because of the requirements of the protocol.
In addition to this, the authors looked at several variables pertaining to the expressions of attachment relationships. They looked at the reunion behaviors, the reactions of children to their mothers and to other persons that they are interacting with. The reactions of the children to strangers, to caregivers and to the mothers were logged. The reaction of the children to the return of their parents was also noted by the researchers. To analyze the research problem effectively, the researchers studied infants in two different settings: at home and at the strange situation.
In addition to this, they also observed the subjects in different ages—at 8 months, 12 months and 18 months, which is already included in the Strange Situation. As a control group for the variable, this enabled the researchers to understand the differences in attachment of the children in different situations and at different stages of their development. The researchers utilized unobtrusive observations in the home setting where they observed the natural tendencies of children and their relationships with the members of the household.
They pre-determined the kinds of behavior and relationships they were looking after and noted their observations. As the study progressed, they compared their notes and established looked at the kinds of attachment relationships for analysis. The researchers explored the literature on the Strange Situation, the studies conducted concerning the observations of infants and their attachment relationships at home and the limitations of observing infants within the Strange Situation Protocol.
Given these developments in the literature, they found out that there is a lack of studies focusing on the attachment relationships beyond the Strange Situation Protocol. The main contribution of the study is the way that they observed infants beyond the Strange Situation. This enabled them to make comparisons as to the development of attachment relationships of younger infants and compare that with findings within the strange situation. The presentation of the findings of the study is not very clear.
One way to improve this would be stating the findings in terms that could be better understood by readers and not only by intellectuals and scientists. The inclusion of diagrams and tables would also greatly help in understanding the results of the study and its application in the lives of mothers and their developing children. There are no apparent ethical issues that can be discerned in the study. Observing the infants and their mothers at home, however, can yield some important ethical considerations in the study. It may be seen as disrupting on the processes and relationships of the family members.
In addition to this, the child may also be alerted by the presence of the researcher and this could have potential impact on the exploration of a toddler of the house. This should also be factored into the study. The way that the study compared attachment relationships of children below the Strange Situation is laudable. The study could be further explored by studying the attachment relationships of children beyond the Strange Situation. The researchers studied children at 8 months, 12 months and 18 months. The study could be further improved by studying children beyond the 20 months of the Strange Situation.
This way, the study could yield important insights in the utility or inadequacy of the Strange Situation as method of measuring attachment relationships. Conclusion The study of Pederson & Moran (1996) helps in understanding the Strange Situation and the way that infants develop attachment relationships at an age that falls below the strange situation. Their findings suggest that there are not much important differences in the way that non-secure mothers and infants develop attachment in the strange situation and outside of it.
However, for those with secure relationships and ambivalent ones, there is concordance and better long term development of attachment. This has implications in the way that children should be treated during their infancy.
Reference Cassidy, J. , & Shaver, P. , (Eds). (1999) Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications. New York: Guilford Press. Greenspan, S. (1993) Infancy and Early Childhood. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. Pederson, D. R. & Moran, G. (1996). Expressions of Attachment Relationship Outside of the Strange Situation. Child Development, 67, 915-927.
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