Mary Ainsworth Had Her Birth Term Paper

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In order to quantify the security of a relationship, Ainsworth and her colleagues designed this system of 'Strange situation' for evaluating individual differences in children with particular emphasis on responses to several series of separations and further reunions with their mothers. The formation of this procedure has sparkled with plenty of literature subsequently, analyzing the progress of mother child attachments, the influence of attachments to other caregivers, and the correlates and effects of secure and insecure attachments. It has become recognized as the most widely accepted procedures in the research of child development. (Arcus, Doreen: Ainsworth, Mary (1913- ))

There was no prior knowledge to Ainsworth that an individual could introspectively explain the way one behaved and felt instead of concentrating on the way the external forces mould the behavior. The concept of 'Strange situation' considered family as the secure base from which a developing individual can move out to develop new skills and interests. (Ainsworth, Mary Dinsmore Salter (1913-1999)) Ainsworth's concentration on the significance of mothers to infants increased the concern of mothers who visualized her study as a testimony for confining the choice of women in balancing home and work. (Mary Ainsworht: Attachment and the Growth of Love) Her revelations could visualize a critical departure in perceptions about infancy and child rearing, particularly during 1980s when more and more mothers started joining the workforce leaving the infants in a day care. (Tribute: Mary Ainsworth)

The opportunity for Ainsworth's most significant contribution to the world of psychology came when her husband accepted the offer of a position in East African Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda. Only in Uganda that she started research on mothers and children's in their natural surroundings, watching and recording as far as possible, and analyzing and publishing the data after she joined in Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. On the basis of her studies made in Uganda and analyses in Baltimore Ainsworth could reveal that there prevails qualitatively isolated structure of attachment that gradually exists between children's and their mothers over the initial periods of life. (Arcus, Doreen. Ainsworth, Mary (1913- ))

The works of Ainsworth in London at Tavistock Clinic during the period 1950-1953, influenced John Bowlby, a trained psychiatrist. (Mary Ainsworht: Attachment and the Growth of Love) John Bowlby and Ainsworth continued to work as associates in the study of attachment research and theory. Ainsworth was incorporated into the Tavistock Mother Infant Interaction Study Group that persistently had interactions with varied developmental scientists from different countries and disciplines. (Biography: Mary D. Salter Ainsworth) After joining the research team at Tavistock Clinic in England, Ainsworth was associated with a research project probing into the influence of maternal separation on the personality development of children. Ainsworth and Bowlby soon came to know about the influence of personality development rising from disruption of the mother-child bond, and they required to first be aware of the development of normal mother child relations. Ainsworth and Bowly could conclude that the lack of a mother figure in child gives rise to unfavorable developmental effects.

Ainsworth's earlier anxiety in the study of security was further perpetuated at the Tavistock Clinic and she intended to perform a longitudinal field study of mother-infant interactions so as to understand more about the development of normal mother child relationsh in a natural environment. Ainsworth could get the scope for conducting this study practically, when she left for Africa leaving the Tavistock Clinic in 1954. Then Leonard attained the position at the East African Institute of Social Research in Uganda. It was here that she studied the interactions of mothers and their childeren. This data was brought out years later after she became a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. Ainsworth could reveal that most of the mother-child relations were associated with comfort and security, while some were tense and conflicted. Ainsworth could also reveal about the evidences that were the testimony for the patterns of interactions between mothers and their children associated with the level of responsiveness that the mothers demonstrated their children. (Mary D. Salter Ainsworth)

Ainsworth's Strange Situations were becoming increasingly popular and provided backgrounds for other studies. The longitudinal studies conducted by Byron Egeland, L Alan Sroufe and W. Andrew Collins on at-risk children in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota had applied the technique of Strange Situations to evaluate their attachment patterns in infancy and the following measures stressing upon the commonalities and challenges in children those were detected to have differing patterns of attachment. Klaus and Karin Grossman, however, could discover more insecure-avoidant attachments in Northern Germany than in Southern Germany where the designs were more similar to those found in U.S.. Other researchers could discover more insecure-ambivalent / resistant attachments in Japanese dyads than would be anticipated. (Mary Ainsworht: Attachment and the Growth of Love)

These analyses have given rise to the cultural inferences of child rearing practices. The most predictive of pathology in later years are considered to be the most disorganized category of attachment relationships. Allan Shore at UCLA could connect the traumatic attachment to the problems in the development of right brain and visualizes this as generating a proclivity to generate a borderline personality disorder. He concluded that the initial abuse influences the prospective influence regulation and stress modulation. The concern of attachments to others different than mothers has given rise to much research and discussion. It resulted in discussion of childcare practices during infancy. (Mary Ainsworht: Attachment and the Growth of Love)

However, the works of Ainsworth were not free from criticisms. Her efforts to represent linkage between response to initial crying and later levels of attachment have entailed only mixed success results, and many deliberations took place on the origins of the reactions of the children in 'Strange Situations'. Irrespective, of these criticisms, the contributions of Mary Ainsworth towards the study of effective growth of children and the role of supportive relationship in many fields of development will have a lasing impact. (Arcus, Doreen. Ainsworth, Mary (1913- )) Her work and research undoubtedly influences researchers in the areas of infancy, social development and related areas. Finally, during her last phase of life from 1984 to 1999 Mary Ainsworth continued to be the Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia from 1984 till she died in 1999 at eighty-six years of age. (Mary D. Salter Ainsworth)


"Ainsworth, Mary Dinsmore Salter (1913-1999)" Retrieved from Accessed 25 October, 2005

Arcus, Doreen. Ainsworth, Mary (1913- )" Retrieved from

Accessed 26 October, 2005

'Biography: Mary D. Salter Ainsworth" Retrieved from

Accessed 25 October, 2005

'Mary D. Salter Ainsworth" Retrieved from Accessed 25 October, 2005

Marvin, Robert. "Mary Ainsworth: Attachment and the Growth of Love." Retrieved from Accessed 26 October, 2005

McCarty, Richard. "Attached to Mary" Retrieved from Accessed 26 October, 2005

'Tribute: Mary Ainsworth" Retrieved from

Accessed 26 October, 2005[continue]

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