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Attachment, Exploration, and Separation: Illustrated by the Behavior of One-Year-Olds in a Strange Situation

Mary D. Salter Ainsworth and Silvia M. Bell
Child Development
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 1970), pp. 49-67
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1127388
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1127388
Page Count: 19
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Attachment, Exploration, and Separation: Illustrated by the Behavior of One-Year-Olds in a Strange Situation
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Abstract

The concepts of attachment and attachment behavior are considered from an ethological-evolutionary viewpoint. Attachment behavior and exploration are viewed in balance, and the biological functions of each are discussed. As an illustration of these concepts, a study is reported of 56 white, middle-class infants, 49-51 weeks of age, in a strange situation. The presence of the mother was found to encourage exploratory behavior, her absence to depress exploration and to heighten attachment behaviors. In separation episodes such behaviors as crying and search increased. In reunion episodes proximity-seeking and contact-maintaining behaviors were heightened. In a substantial proportion of Ss, contact-resisting behaviors were also heightened in the reunion episodes, usually in conjunction with contact-maintaining behaviors, thus suggesting ambivalence. Some Ss also displayed proximity-avoiding behavior in relation to the mother in the reunion episodes. These findings are discussed in the context of relevant observational, clinical, and experimental studies of human and nonhuman primates, including studies of mother-child separation. In conclusion, it is urged that the concepts of attachment and attachment behavior be kept broad enough to comprehend the spectrum of the findings of this range of studies.

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