MARY AINSWORTH

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Scientific Biographies
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MARY AINSWORTH

MARY AINSWORTH

Mary Ainsworth Biography* Mary was born in Glendale, Ohio in December 1913.* When she was 15, she read Character and the Conduct of Life which inspired her life-long interest in psychology.* She went to University of Toronto and earned her B.A. M.A. and Ph.D.* She married Leonard Ainsworth and moved to London to pursue her interest in psychoanalytic theory.o Psychoanalytic Theory: is a method of investigating and treating personality disorders and is used in psychotherapy. Included in this theory is the idea that things that happen to people during childhood can contribute to the way they later function as adults. * During her time in England, Ainsworth worked at the Tavistock Clinic with psychologist John Bowlby, where she researched maternal-infant attachments.* She began working on creating an assessment to measure attachments between mothers and children. It was here that she developed her famous "Strange Situation" assessment, in which a researcher observes a child's reactions when a mother briefly leaves her child alone in an unfamiliar room.o The way the child behaves during the separation and upon the mother's return can reveal important information about attachment.* Based on her observations and research, Ainsworth concluded that there were three main styles of attachment: secure, anxious-avoidant and anxious-resistant. Since these initial finding, her work has spawned countless studies into the nature of attachment and the different attachmentstyles that exist between children and caregivers. * Mary Ainsworth's work research on attachment has played an important role in our understanding of child development and her observations have inspired an enormous body of research on the early childhood attachment..

To prove her Attachment Theory, Ainsworth preformed a set of experiements involving one to two year olds in a "strange situation" procedure. The experiment started with 100 middle class American families who were observed during eight parts. Each lasting three minutes, the parts moved forward with each mother, baby, and a stranger.1. Mother, baby, and experimenter in the room.2. Mother and baby alone in the room.3. Stranger, mother, and baby in the room.4. Mother leaves. Stranger and baby in the room.5. Mother comes back. Stranger leaves. Once again, mother and baby in the room.6. Mother leaves again. Baby is alone.7. Stranger comes back.8. Mother comes back. Stranger leaves.The majority of the babies studied, 70%, were somewhat distressed when the mother left and avoidant of the stanger. If the stranger and mother were both there, however, the babies felt safe to be friendly with the stranger. This shows that the babies are more willing to be outgoing with new people if their mother was there because they felt secure. This led overall to the Attachement Theory because the babies felt connected to their mothers in this specific way.

Attachment TheoryA concept in developmental psychology that concerns the importance of "attachment" in regards to personal development. Specifically, it makes the claim that the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical "attachment" to another person gives a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality. Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969).

Strange Situation:A procedure devised by Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to observe attachment relationships between a caregiver and child. It applies to children between the age of nine and 18 months, in which a researcher observes a child's reactions when a mother briefly leaves her child alone in an unfamiliar room. The way the child behaves during the separation and upon the mother's return can reveal important information about attachment.

The Attachment Theory affects developmental psychology because it shows the importance of relationships between people. Because the babies were distressed when their mothers weren't present, their care and love was shown. The experiment identified the different types of attachment between parents and children. The first type of attachement and most common is secure attachment. This is when a child models themself after a representation of another. The other two types, avoidant children and ambivalent children, are the two oter extremes. Avoidant children think that they are unworthy of care and ambivalent children feel negative about themselves and want to gain attention. These types of attachment determine how a child grows up and views relationships, the result of Ainsworth's experiment.

By: Laurel KesslerQuinn MahonyCaroyln MojicaKimberly CameronPeriod 2


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