Strange Situation Protocol

The Strange Situation procedure was formulated to observe attachment relationships between a caregiver and children between the age of nine and 18 months. It was developed by Mary Ainsworth, a developmental psychologist[1] Originally it was devised to enable children to be classified into the attachment styles known as secureanxious-avoidant and anxious-ambivalent. As research accumulated and atypical patterns of attachment became more apparent it was further developed by Main and Solomon in 1986 and 1990 to include the new category of disorganized/disoriented attachment.[2][3]

In this procedure the child is observed playing for 20 minutes while caregivers and strangers enter and leave the room, recreating the flow of the familiar and unfamiliar presence in most children’s lives. The situation varies in stressfulness and the child’s responses are observed.

This uses the MacArthur Preschool Method and the Circle of Security Method of assessing attachment style.

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