Human Development

Human Development

The strange situation is an experiment procedure created by Mary Ainsworth to measure attachment in children. In the video experiment, a child of age 18 months is placed in a controlled environment to be observed in different situations (Dunn, 2015). The mother and the child are in an unfamiliar room and the child is given time to explore the new environment. After three minutes, a stranger enters the room and tries to interact with the child. When the mother tries living in the room the child cries and does not respond to the comfort provided by the stranger. Depending on how a child responds, Ainsworth classified the child as insecure-resistant, insecure-avoidant, and securely attached (Granqvis et al., 2017). The strange situation has several strengths in measuring the attachment of children in different situations but it also presents several limitations.

One of the major strengths of the strange situation experiment is its high internal validity. The experiment provides an understanding of how different factors could be controlled including the behavior of a child towards a stranger, the child’s reaction when the mother leaves, and the mother’s behavior with and without her child. In the video, Ainsworth used only one stranger throughout the study to control the experiment (Dunn, 2015). The behavior of the mother was assessed and the amount of time with or without the child. Another critical strength of a strange situation is that it is easy to observe and perform. The experiment is easy to perform and it needs only a limited time. This means that the experiment can be repeated many times to observe the results consistency. The experiment also clearly shows the results since the researchers could observe behind an open-way mirror. Reliability is another significant strength of the strange situation experiment (Granqvis et al., 2017). After conducting further analysis on the experiment, the researcher found perfect inter-observer reliability by distinct observers when it comes to behaviors of exploration. This means that the experiment is reliable when assessing different types of attachment in children.

The strange situation experiment also has several limitations. First, there is low external validity since the experience was conducted in an artificial environment (Granqvis et al., 2017). This may have caused distress on the child hence affecting the results of the experiment. There is also cultural bias in the experiment since it was only conducted to represent American mothers and children. This limits data representativeness since child attachment may be different in other ethnicities. Another disadvantage is the lack of ecological validity. The experiment was only conducted in a controlled environment. However, the child could have behaved differently in an environment that is more familiar. Their experiment is also an overt observation since the mother knew she was observed. The mother may have behaved in a certain way to look like an excellent parent. This could have altered the behavior of the child and hence the results.











Dunn, J. (2015). Ainsworth Strange Situation (YouTube Video).

Granqvist, P., Sroufe, L. A., Dozier, M., Hesse, E., Steele, M., van Ijzendoorn, M., … & Duschinsky, R. (2017). Disorganized attachment in infancy: a review of the phenomenon and its implications for clinicians and policy-makers. Attachment & human development, 19(6), 534-558.

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