Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Patterns of Attachment

A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation, 1st Edition

By Mary D. Salter Ainsworth, Mary C. Blehar, Everett Waters, Sally N. Wall

Psychology Press

418 pages

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Ethological attachment theory is a landmark of 20th century social and behavioral sciences theory and research. This new paradigm for understanding primary relationships across the lifespan evolved from John Bowlby’s critique of psychoanalytic drive theory and his own clinical observations, supplemented by his knowledge of fields as diverse as primate ethology, control systems theory, and cognitive psychology. By the time he had written the first volume of his classic Attachment and Loss trilogy, Mary D. Salter Ainsworth’s naturalistic observations in Uganda and Baltimore, and her theoretical and descriptive insights about maternal care and the secure base phenomenon had become integral to attachment theory.

Patterns of Attachment reports the methods and key results of Ainsworth’s landmark Baltimore Longitudinal Study. Following upon her naturalistic home observations in Uganda, the Baltimore project yielded a wealth of enduring, benchmark results on the nature of the child’s tie to its primary caregiver and the importance of early experience. It also addressed a wide range of conceptual and methodological issues common to many developmental and longitudinal projects, especially issues of age appropriate assessment, quantifying behavior, and comprehending individual differences. In addition, Ainsworth and her students broke new ground, clarifying and defining new concepts, demonstrating the value of the ethological methods and insights about behavior.

Today, as we enter the fourth generation of attachment study, we have a rich and growing catalogue of behavioral and narrative approaches to measuring attachment from infancy to adulthood. Each of them has roots in the Strange Situation and the secure base concept presented in Patterns of Attachment. It inclusion in the Psychology Press Classic Editions series reflects Patterns of Attachment’s continuing significance and insures its availability to new generations of students, researchers, and clinicians.


'There is still no better introduction to attachment theory and research than Patterns of Attachment.'Jay Belsky, Robert M. and Natalie Reid Dorn Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of California, Davis, USA

'Patterns of Attachment is a landmark contribution to multiple scientific disciplines that revolutionized the understanding of the processes underlying attachment and continues to be one of the most important and influential scientific works of the past half-century.' Dante Cicchetti, McKnight Presidential Chair, William Harris Professor, and Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, USA

'Patterns of Attachment is one of the most important studies ever conducted by developmental scientists. Thanks to the Classic Editions series for keeping this classic work available and for the new preface and expanded appendices, which greatly enhance this already stunning work.' – L. Alan Sroufe, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, USA

'Patterns of Attachment presents the ABCs of a truly generative developmental heuristics. It is rich with original methods and bold, testable conjectures. This makes it a classic of theoretical and observational progress in developmental science. This timely reissue will inspire new generations of developmental researchers to thoroughly interrogate and continuously adjust basic hypotheses of attachment theory.' Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Professor of Child and Family Studies, Leiden University and Professor of Human Development, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

'At last, this classic is again now widely available. For researchers new to attachment theory, this is an invaluable introduction. For researchers familiar with attachment, the new preface and the inclusion of the complete maternal sensitivity scales provide important historical context and contemporary updates.' Marsha Weinraub, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology and Chair, Psychology Department, Temple University, USA

'The Baltimore Longitudinal Study changed the course of developmental psychology, and provided an important bridge from developmental to clinical research. The reissue of this classic reminds us of its historical significance and contemporary relevance.' Charles H. Zeanah, Jr., M.D., Sellars-Polchow Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, and Vice-Chair for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Tulane University, USA

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction 1. Theoretical Background Part II: Method 2. Procedures 3. Measures and Methods of Assessment Part III: Results 4. Descriptive Account of Behavior in Each Episode 5. Normative Trends across Episodes 6. An Examination of the Classificatory System: A Multiple Discriminate Function Analysis 7. Relationships between Infant Behavior in the Strange Situation and at Home 8. Relationships between Infant Behavior in the Strange Situation and Maternal Behavior at Home 9. A Review of Strange-Situation Studies of One-Year-Olds 10. A Review of Strange-Situation Studies of Two- to Four-Year-Olds 11. The Effects of Repetition of the Strange Situation 12. Subgroups and Their Usefulness Part IV: Discussion 13. Discussion of Normative Issues 14. Individual Differences: In Light of Contrasting Paradigms 15. An Interpretation of Individual Differences Appendix I: Instructions to Mother Appendix II: Instructions for Coding and Tabulating Frequency of Behaviors Appendix III: Scoring System for Interactive Behaviors Appendix IV: Maternal Caregiving and Interaction Scales Appendix V: Secure Base Behavior At Home Appendix VI: Supplementary Statistical Findings

About the Authors

Mary D. Salter Ainsworth, Ph.D. was Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Mary C. Blehar, Ph.D. is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health.

Everett Waters, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Sally N. Wall, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

About the Series

Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions

The Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions series celebrates a commitment to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and learning within the field of Psychology and related areas. The books in this series are widely recognized as timeless classics, of continuing importance for both students and researchers. Each title contains a completely new introduction which explores what has changed since the books were first published, where the field might go from here and why these books are as relevant now as ever. Written by recognized experts, and covering core areas of the subject, the Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions series presents fundamental ideas to a new generation.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General