Instructions To The Mother - Appendix I

Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation - Mary D. Salter Ainsworth 2015

Instructions To The Mother
Appendix I

This is a set of instructions to explain what will happen from the moment you arrive at Room——in——.Here we will discuss any questions about the observation of the baby in the strange situation, and leave coats. When we are all ready to proceed, you will be shown the door of the observation room, then taken into the experimental room. You will stay with your baby in the experimental room until the end of Episode 3 (see below). Then you may go into the observation room to watch him/her through a one-way vision mirror.

We would like to stress an important aspect of your role in the strange situation: Try to be as natural in your responsiveness to the baby as you would generally be. Do not actively engage him in play with the toys in the first three episodes until we give you the signal to do so, but feel free to respond to his advances (smiling, approaching, etc.) as you ordinarily would at home. If the baby is distressed at any time while you are in the room, please feel free to react as you normally would in order to make him comfortable again. We want to watch the baby’s spontaneous response to the toys and to the strangeness of the situation. For this reason we ask the mother not to intervene and attract her baby’s attention. Yet we don’t want the baby to feel that his mother is acting strangely.

Thus, yours is a delicate task of reassuring the baby of your support as you would normally do when he seems to need it, without interfering with his exploratory behavior.


Episode 1. Mother, Baby, Experimenter. We will show you into the experimental room with the baby. We want to see how the baby reacts to a new environment from the safety of his mother’s arms. You will therefore carry the baby into the room. The experimenter will show you where to put him down and where you are to sit, and then he (she) will leave.

Episode 2. Mother, Baby (3 minutes). As soon as the experimenter has left, you are to put the baby down on the floor on the specified spot, facing the toys. You then go to your chair and pretend to read a magazine. You will respond to the baby quietly if he makes overtures to you, or reassure him if he is uneasy or upset, but you are not to try to attract the baby’s attention. We want to see the kind of interest the baby has in a new situation. If the baby spontaneously begins to play with the toys or to explore the room, we let him continue to do so without interruption for 3 minutes. If, at the end of 2 minutes, he has not begun to play with the toys, a knock will sound on the wall signaling you to take him over to the toys and to try to arouse his interest in them. Then, after a moment, you will go back to your chair, and we will see what he does for 1 additional minute.

Episode 3. Stranger, Mother, Baby (3 minutes). A stranger—a woman—enters, introduces herself briefly, and then goes to her chair, across the room from yours, and sits quietly for 1 minute. Then she will engage you in conversation for 1 minute, and, finally, she will invite the baby’s attention for 1 minute. Throughout this, you are to sit quietly in your chair and talk only when the stranger talks with you. The first two knocks on the wall will be cues to the stranger to change her activities. We wish to observe the baby’s responses to gradually increased attention from a stranger, with his mother present but not active. When the third knock comes, you are to leave the room as unobtrusively as possible leaving your handbag behind on your chair. Please close the door when you leave.

Episode 4. Stranger, Baby (3 minutes or less). You are to come to the observation room to watch the baby through the one-way glass. Meanwhile the stranger remains with the baby. We want to see what the baby’s interest is in an unfamiliar room with only a stranger present. Some babies become upset when their mothers leave. Should your baby become too upset, we will terminate the episode. If you feel that the episode should be terminated, just tell us, and you can go back to the experimental room immediately.

Episode 5. Mother, Baby (3 minutes or more). Someone will tell you when it is time to begin the episode. You will go to the door of the experimental room and, before opening it, call to the baby loudly enough for him to hear you through the closed door. Pause a moment, then open the door and pause again. We are interested to see how the baby will greet his mother spontaneously after she has been absent. After this pause, greet the baby and make him comfortable for the next episode, finally settling him on the floor, interested in the toys. After 3 minutes, or when the observer judges that the baby is settled enough to be ready for the next episode, he will signal by a knock on the wall. This will give you your cue to leave the baby alone in the room.

Episode 6. Baby Alone (3 minutes or less). After the knock comes, pick a moment when the baby seems cheerfully occupied with the toys, get up, put your handbag on your chair, and go to the door. Pause at the door to say “bye-bye” to the baby, and then leave the room, closing the door behind you. Come again to the observation room to watch him through the one-way glass. We want to see how the baby reacts to your departure and what he will do all by himself in a strange room. He may be quite content, but if he becomes too upset we will terminate the episode.

Episode 7. Stranger, Baby (3 minutes or less). The stranger enters, and we can see how the baby reacts to a stranger, without his mother present and after being alone. If he has been unhappy without his mother, we want to see whether he can be comforted by a stranger. In any case, we want to see whether he will play with her or with the toys in her presence.

Episode 8. Mother, Baby (3 minutes). Someone will tell you when it is time to go back into the experimental room. This time you can go directly in, but after opening the door pause for a moment to see what the baby will do spontaneously when he sees you. Then talk to him for a moment, then pick him up. We will come to the door to tell you when the episode is over. In the meantime do whatever seems the natural thing to do under the circumstances.