Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation


This book is about the attachment of infants to their mother figures. In it we focus on how infant behavior is patterned. We approach this patterning in two main ways. First, we examine the way in which a baby's behavior is patterned when the attachment system is activated at varying levels of intensity through simple manipulations of his environment in a laboratory situation, which we have called the "strange situation." When examining the baby's responses to controlled environmental changes, we observe the way in which his or her attachment behavior interacts with other behavioral systems that are also activated at varying levels of intensity and that may either compete or conflict with attachment behavior or augment the intensity with which attachment behavior is manifested. Second, we identify certain important individual differences in the way in which behavior is patterned -- oth attachment behavior and behavior antithetical to it -- and seek to understand how such differences may have arisen and how different patterns of attachment may influence development. We undertook writing this book in order to present the information about infant-mother attachment that we had gained through the use of a standard laboratory situation and to compare the manifestations of attachment in that situation with manifestations of attachment observed at home. We also wished to review the findings of other investigations of attachment, especially those that are directly comparable with ours because of their use of our strange-situation procedure, and to compare their findings with ours, including the findings of investigations that studied children older than the 1- year-olds upon which our work focuses and those that are concerned with an infant's attachment to figures other than the mother. We report much...

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Hillsdale, NJ
Publication year:
  • 1978


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