Strange Situation Experiment

Mary Ainsworth, Bleher, Waters and Wall made an experiment to identify the difference between individuals in terms of attachment types. They investigated 12-18 month babies and their their relationship with mothers, environment and strangers. This experiment was made in a psychology lab and the lab was designed fort his experiment; there were toys for babies, an armchair and magazines for mothers. The experiment consist of 8 stage and each stage continue 3 minutes:

  1. Stage: Baby, mother and observer come in the room. Observer says the mother where she puts the baby and where she sits.
  2. Stage: Mother puts the baby side of toys and sits the armchair.
  3. Stage: The stranger knocks the door and comes in. She waits quietly during one minute, then she starts to talk during one minute and then gets close to the baby and shows a toy. During this time, mother sits quietly and gets out without notice in the last of third minute.
  4. Stage: If the baby plays with toys, the stranger does not join the play; but if the baby is passive then the stranger tries to attract attention with toys. If the baby gets irritate, the stranger tries to relax the baby. If the baby does not relax, this stage is cut short and the mother can come in.
  5. Stage: Mother comes in and waits at the door to supply baby to respond spontaneously. The mother makes the baby relax and play with toys. At that moment, stranger goes out without notice to baby.
  6. Stage: Mother goes out again but this time when she goes out, she says ‘good bye’ in a happy way to baby. Baby stays alone during 3 minutes. If baby gets irritates to much, this stage is cut short.
  7. Stage: The stranger comes in. If the baby plays with toys, stranger does not meddle. If the baby is anxious, stranger tries to relax the baby. In this stage, it is observed that the baby plays with stranger or not and the stranger makes the baby relax or not. If the baby gets irritate too much, this stage is cut short.
  8. Stage: The mother comes in to room, and the stranger goes out. In this stage baby’s responses to mother are observed.

Ainsworth et all determined 3 different attachment types:

  1. Secure Attachment

Babies who attach their mother in a secure way, feel less anxiety when their mother goes out and this babies can communicate easily with the stranger. When their mother comes in the room again, they relax immediately; they continue to play and explore the environment. It was observed that 70% of babies had this attachment style.

2. Anxious Avoidant Attachment

In this style, babies do not react too much when their mother goes out. They seem like unfeeling and continue to play with toys superficially. When their mother comes in the room again they avoid to contact with mothers and they deal with environment more. It was observed  that 15% of babies had this attachment style.

3. Anxious Resistant Attachment

In this style, babies feel intense anxiety and anger when their mother goes out. When mother come to room again, the babie’s anxiety and anger continues and it is hard to make the baby relax. This babies do not interest with other things. It was observed that 15% of babies had this attachment style.


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