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Classify attachment type Essay

Van Iljzendoorn & Kroonenberg researched different databases for studies on attachment that had used the strange situation to classify attachment type. They conducted a meta-analysis on 32 of these studies. They were the first researchers to carry out a thorough Meta analysis to consider all cross culture findings using the Strange Situation Test. The Strange Situation Test is the only test of infant attachment that has been used in several countries. It could be argued that findings from test could be used to understand some of the main sub-cultural differences found within any given country. There have been many key findings as a result of the test. The most important was that the variation in attachment within cultures was 1-1/2 times greater than the variation between cultures.

However, the Strange Situation procedure was carried out in the laboratory and therefore it has a fairly artificial approach. Also, the infants attachment behaviour is much stronger in the laboratory than at home. Additionally, the Strange Situation Test was carried out in the USA so it may be culturally biased. Therefore the ecological validity of the Strange Situation must be questioned. The Strange Situation measurement assumes that the behaviour of all children in all cultures means the same thing. The Strange Situation Test is based on cultural assumptions, this technique is called imposed etic -where a process is devised in one culture to study other cultures. This questions the validity of the Strange Situation Test as a measuring tool for attachment between cross culture variation.

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Cross-cultural variation has been well tried and tested and is one of the most popular measures of attachment. It is also possible to see the value of such a measure; there are some real practical applications from being able to assess a child’s security. However, all the limiting factors mentioned in the above paragraph contribute to the fact that we cannot be sure either way about cross-cultural similarities or differences, because of these limitations. Additionally we have to be careful in drawing conclusions, regarding a culture from such a limited sample. The conclusions regarding the Chinese children are based on one study. We can’t make generalisations regarding a population the size of China, on the results of just a handful of children.

I feel there are many similarities across cultures for instance there was a considerable amount of consistency in the overall distribution of attachment types across all cultures and secure attachment was the most common type of attachments in all 8 nations researched in Van Iljzendoorn & Kroonenberg’s study. Also the Western cultures dominant insecure type is anxious/avoidant and the non-western cultures dominant insecure type is anxious/resistant. However, there are of course differences, which are not accounted for in the Strange Situation Test. For instance China was the exception as anxious/avoidant and anxious/resistant were distributed equally. This shows that it is wrong to make such generalisations on the basis of the techniques used, as there are not just variations between cultures but within cultures also.

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