Scoring System for Interactive Behaviors - Appendix III

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

Scoring System for Interactive Behaviors
Appendix III

Proximity- and Contact-Seeking Behavior

This variable deals with the intensity and persistence of the baby’s efforts to gain (or to regain) contact with—or, more weakly, proximity to—a person, with the highest scores reserved for behavior in which the baby both takes initiative in achieving contact and is effective in doing so on his own account. If an episode contains several instances of proximity-seeking behavior, the episode will be judged in terms of the instance that qualifies for the highest rating, unless otherwise specified below.

7 Very Active Effort and Initiative in Achieving Physical Contact. The baby purposefully approaches the adult, creeping, crawling, or walking. He goes the whole way and actually achieves the contact through his own efforts, by clambering up on or grasping hold of the adult. The cooperation of the adult is not required. Contact is more than momentary; the baby does not turn away to other things within 15 seconds.

Note: In Episodes 5, 7, and 8 this top score cannot be used if the initial approach (even though it otherwise meets the above criteria) is delayed substantially (i.e., more than 30 seconds). If, however, there is an initial approach or signal for contact without substantial delay, followed later by another approach meeting the above criteria, the episode may be coded 7, even though the initial bid for contact does not qualify for this coding.

6 Active Effort and Initiative in Achieving Physical Contact. This coding will be used for an approach and/or clamber showing initiative and active effort that nearly, but not quite, fulfills the specifications for a coding of 7.

  1. The baby purposefully approaches the adult (i.e., he does not merely happen to approach while pursuing a toy). He goes the whole way and then signals by reaching or equivalent behavior that he wants to be picked up; but he does not clamber up or hold on to make contact entirely on his own initiative. He requires the cooperation of the adult in gaining contact.
  2. The baby purposefully approaches the adult, going the whole way, and signals his desire to be picked up, but the adult does not cooperate; the adult does not pick him up or hold him, and contact is thus not achieved—provided that the baby make at least two other active bids for contact within the episode, whether these are successful or not.
  3. In Episode 5, 7, or 8 an approach that otherwise would be scored 7, except that it is substantially delayed, is scored 6.
  4. The baby at least three times does a full approach with clamber and/or brief contact (held only 5 to 15 seconds)—any one of these instances being too brief to qualify for a coding of 6 or 7.
  5. The baby does not begin his approach purposefully, but rather approaches in the course of exploration; finding himself close to the adult, he then completes his approach purposefully, and clambers up or holds on, achieving contact (and holding it for more than 15 seconds) on his own initiative.

5 Some Active Effort to Achieve Physical Contact. This score will be given to an active effort to achieve contact that in one way or another does not quite fulfill the specifications of a coding of 6.

  1. The baby approaches purposefully and fully but does not end the approach even with a reach or other signal (except perhaps for a cry), but rather is picked up without any signal beyond the approach itself.
  2. The baby, being held by a stranger, cannot approach his mother through locomotion, but he does the best he can by actively and strongly straining toward her. This straining implies tension involving the whole body and goes beyond mere lifting of arms or a casual reach.
  3. The baby, either because he is at the door already or because he is put down by the stranger close to the mother, is too close to approach, but nevertheless he reaches strongly for the pick-up.
  4. In Episode 5, 7, or 8 the baby, having delayed substantially in making an active effort to regain contact, now makes a full approach ending with a signal that he wishes to be picked up (either a reach or a cry), but requires adult cooperation to achieve contact.
  5. The baby makes at least three active bids for contact (e.g., an approach, a reach, or a “directed cry”) at least one of which is a purposeful reach; he may be scored 5 even though he does not complete contact in any of them, presumably because the adult does not cooperate.

4 Obvious Desire to Achieve Physical Contact, but With Ineffective Effort or Lack of Initiative OR Active Effort to Gain Proximity Without Persisting Toward Contact. This middle score, as the heading suggests, is for babies who obviously desire contact but show relatively little active effort or initiative in gaining it, and for babies who are competent and effective in their approach behavior but who are content with minimal contact or with mere proximity.

  1. The baby spontaneously (i.e., before the adult approaches and/or offers her hands or invites him) signals his desire to regain contact by a reach, lean, or “directed cry” as though he expected the adult to pick him up. (A “directed cry” is a signal-like cry—either an isolated cry or a distinct increase of intensity of crying—obviously directed toward the adult; it is to be distinguished from continuous or intermittent crying that expresses distress but does not seem to be emitted as an attempt to communicate to the adult a specific desire to be picked up and to be picked up now.
  2. The baby begins to approach the adult but goes only part of the distance, and either with or without a further signal waits for the adult, who completes the pick-up. (If, however, the baby goes a substantial part of the distance and presumably would have gone the whole way had he not been approached by the adult simultaneously, this will be counted as a full approach and given a higher score.)
  3. The baby makes repeated full approaches either without completing contact or with only momentary contact.
  4. baby makes a full approach, obviously wanting contact, but the adult does not cooperate and does not pick him up. (See, however, 6b and 5e for specifications of nonreciprocated approaches that may be given higher scores.)
  5. The baby makes a full approach that ends in contact (either on the baby’s initiative or with the adult’s cooperation), but he does so only after the adult has invited him to do so by offering her hands or by otherwise coaxing him to come.

3 Weak Effort to Achieve Physical Contact OR Moderately Strong Effort to Gain Proximity. The baby may display a desire to gain contact but a relatively weak or ineffective effort to implement his desire. Or he may take initiative in approaching the adult in order to interact with her or merely to increase proximity. In the latter case it is quite obvious that the baby does not achieve contact because he does not especially seek it, not because the adult disappoints him by her lack of cooperation.

  1. The baby is distressed, crying, and may be presumed to want contact because he stops crying or at least substantially lulls when he is given contact; but he does not give any specific signal that he wants contact—neither a reach nor an approach nor a “directed cry.”
  2. As above the baby is distressed and crying and does reach, lean, or even slightly crawl to indicate his wish for contact—but only after the adult has begun pick-up or has offered her hands, or after a long delay.
  3. The baby makes a spontaneous full approach but neither makes contact nor seems to want to do so. Instead he offers a toy or initiates some other kind of interaction, or he seems content with mere proximity.
  4. The baby makes a spontaneous full approach and either merely touches the adult in an exploratory way or pulls himself into a standing position, giving the clear impression that he is using the adult as he would a chair or other inanimate support and that sustained contact is not the goal. (If, however, the baby remains steadying himself against the adult, he will be assumed to desire contact even though he seems off-hand about it, and will be given a higher score. Category 3d is only for momentary contact of this sort.)
  5. The baby spontaneously and deliberately signals his desire for contact with a reach (and with no cry) but, in the face of lack of response from the adult, he does not persist in his bid for contact. (The absence of the cry implies a relatively weak desire for contact.)
  6. The baby, having been invited by the adult to approach across a distance, makes a full approach, which ends neither in contact nor with a signal indicating a wish for contact.

2 Minimal Effort to Achieve Physical Contact or Proximity.

  1. The baby begins to approach (in a sort of intention movement) but stops, having gone only a short way, and does not follow up this beginning with any further signals of a desire for contact.
  2. The baby seems to be making a full approach, but changes direction to approach something else, or passes beyond the adult—for example, to go out the door, to the door, or to explore something beyond the adult, without pause for any kind of interaction en route.
  3. After the adult offers her hands, the baby reaches in an almost automatic gesture. The weakness of desire for contact (with the mother) is underlined by the fact that the baby is not even crying when the invitation is given.

1 No Effort to Achieve Physical Contact or Proximity. Episodes will be scored 1 whenever the baby is occupied with play and exploration—or with desperate crying—and pays little attention to the adult. In addition, episodes will be scored 1 in which are displayed the following behaviors, which are considered to indicate no effort (and no real desire) to achieve contact proximity.

  1. The baby merely looks, or smiles, or interacts across a distance without any increase of proximity or any signal indicating that contact is desired.
  2. The baby accepts contact, even being picked up, but merely accepts it. He did not indicate his wish for it by a cry, approach, or reach. Even though he had been crying, he shows that he had no particular desire for contact (and this occurs especially with the stranger) by the fact that he neither diminishes his crying nor hugs, clings, nor holds on.
  3. The baby approaches accidentally in the course of exploration or pursuing a rolling toy, and neither makes contact with the adult nor pauses to interact with her when he comes to her.

Contact-Maintaining Behavior

This score deals with the degree of activity and persistence in the baby’s efforts to maintain contact with the adult once he has gained it, having either approached her to make contact himself or been picked up either with or without having signaled his desire to be picked up. The relevant episodes for interaction with the mother are 2, 3, 5, and 8. The relevant episodes for the stranger are 3, 4, and 7—and, in a few instances, also 8.

Although the baby’s behavior is the focus of attention here, it must be viewed within the context of interaction with the adult. Because the adults, as well as the babies, differ in the extent to which they initiate or accept contact, each of the score points has several alternatives, in an attempt to encompass a variety of contingencies.

7 Very Active and Persistent Effort to Maintain Physical Contact.

  1. The baby, in the course of contact lasting over 2 minutes, shows at least two instances of active resistance to release or to cessation of contact—and indeed these efforts are in part responsible for the long period of contact. These efforts include clinging when the adult shifts his position in her arms or attempts to put him down, turning to clutch the adult or to clamber up on her again soon after being put down, or turning to the adult to make closer contact.
  2. The adult holds the baby for 2 minutes or more, but does not attempt to release him. The baby, meanwhile, embraces the adult, or sinks in, or reclines against her in a relaxed manner, or otherwise clings to her.
  3. The baby initiates contact and remains in contact (e.g., standing holding on to the mother’s knee) for over 2 minutes and in addition shows at least two instances of active resistance to cessation of contact.

6 Active and Fairly Persistent Effort to Maintain Physical Contact.

  1. The baby, in the course of contact lasting between 1 and 2 minutes, shows at least one instance of active resistance to release (e.g., by clinging, clambering up, etc.). For the rest of the period of contact, he may be more passive, but even then he shows his desire for contact by sinking in, holding on, or reclining against the adult.
  2. The baby, having spontaneously approached the adult, sustains contact for longer than 1 minute, and shows at least one active clambering or resisting cessation of contact after the initial behavior that made the contact.
  3. The baby, in the course of contact lasting longer than 2 minutes, clings or, if an attempt is made to release him, actively resists it; but when finally put down, he merely cries and makes no active effort to regain contact.

5 Some Active Effort to Maintain Physical Contact.

  1. The baby, in the course of contact lasting for less than a minute, shows one marked instance of resistance to release (clinging on attempted release, clambering up after being put down, turning to the adult to make closer contact), which, as it turns out, does result in maintaining contact or at least in delaying the release.
  2. Or, he shows two instances of active behavior of this sort, neither of which results in more than brief contact.
  3. Or, having actively initiated contact by clambering up (or some similarly active behavior), he resists release once even though this may not be a marked instance of resistance.
  4. The baby is held by the mother for more than a minute; the baby may be crying and/or clinging, but he makes no active effort to resist release or to clamber up again after being put down—although he may perhaps reach a little. The point here is that the baby shows his desire for contact by clinging or by diminishing crying, but the adult’s response to his behavior (continued holding) gives him no opportunity to demonstrate more active behavior in maintaining physical contact, at least not until after the contact has been long enough for him to be thoroughly comforted.
  5. Or, the baby is held for less than a minute, clinging markedly, and protests strongly when put down, even though he may not actively attempt to clamber up or to clutch at the adult in resistance to release.

4 Obvious Desire to Maintain Physical Contact but Relatively Little Active Effort to Do So.

  1. The baby has been held, perhaps clinging a little, perhaps having diminished his crying when picked up; when put down he decisively protests, giving more than a brief cry.
  2. The baby was picked up when he was quite distressed; although he seems not to have been truly comforted by the contact, nevertheless he shows his desire to maintain contact by clinging markedly.
  3. The baby, having been picked up when crying, quiets, perhaps with some clinging; after being held for less than 1 minute, he is put down; he either makes no protest, or the protest is both considerably delayed and minimal. He may, however, signal briefly by reaching that he would like to maintain contact, but he makes no more effective effort than this to do so.
  4. The baby, having been held, is released; he resists release briefly, by attempting to hold on or by clinging briefly, but when this is ineffective he accepts the release without protest and without further effort to maintain contact.

3 Some Apparent Desire to Maintain Physical Contact but Relatively Little Active Effort to Do So.

  1. The baby initiates contact twice or more during the episode—by approaching and by touching or by clambering up—but each contact is held only briefly and then broken either by the baby himself or by the adult, with no protest or resistance from the baby.
  2. The baby initiates contact once during the episode and shows some additional active attachment behavior (beyond that necessary to achieve contact—e.g., clutching, burying the face, reclining against the adult), but does not persist in the contact for more than a few moments, and spontaneously breaks away.
  3. The adult initiates the contact, picking the baby up or holding him, with perhaps a signal from the baby (cry or reach); the baby accepts the contact but does not cling; when he is put down he protests briefly with a cry (not merely with an unhappy noise or cryface).
  4. The adult initiates the contact, perhaps after a signal from the baby; the contact persists for a minute or more; the baby accepts the contact passively and gives the impression of liking it; but when he is put down he makes no protest.

2 Physical Contact, but Apparently Little Effort or Desire to Maintain It.

  1. The baby initiates contact no more than once during the episode, and either breaks it off himself after a few seconds, or, if the adult makes the break, makes no effort to maintain the contact.
  2. The adult initiates contact, and the baby either accepts it briefly and then breaks it or gives a brief, minimal protest (unhappy noise or cryface) when put down.
  3. The adult picks up the baby, who is very distressed; the baby accepts the contact, but, although his crying may diminish, he is not really comforted. When he is put down, he cries and may cry more intensely, but this does not seem so much a definite protest against the cessation of contact as a response to the whole distressing situation. The point is, however, that even though he is very distressed, he seems somewhat less distressed when in contact with the adult than when he is not.

1 Either No Physical Contact or No Effort to Maintain It.

  1. The baby is not held or touched.
  2. Or, if picked up, he neither clings nor holds on, and when he is put down he makes no protest; if he is not put down he may still be coded 1 if he seems indifferent to being held. Furthermore, he has taken no initiative in making the contact in the first place.

Resistant Behavior

This variable deals with the intensity and frequency or duration of resistant behavior evoked by the person who comes into contact with or proximity to the baby, or who attempts to initiate interaction or to involve him in play. The mood is angry—pouting, petulance, cranky fussing, angry distress, or full-blown temper tantrums. The relevant behaviors are: pushing away, throwing away, dropping, batting away, hitting, kicking, squirming to be put down, jerking away, stepping angrily, and resistance to being picked up or moved or restrained. More diffuse manifestations are: angry screaming, throwing self about, throwing self down, kicking the floor, pouting, cranky fussing and petulance. These behaviors may alternate with active efforts to achieve or maintain contact with (or proximity to) the person who is being rejected. If both kinds of behavior are marked, the baby’s behavior could be scored high in both variables.

One is reminded of the “weaning tantrums” of infant monkeys. The implication is that the baby rejects his mother, being angry with her for having left (rejected, abandoned) him. Often enough it is clear that he rejects toys that are offered to him as a redirection of rejection of or anger toward the person who offers them. It seems likely that the rejection of the stranger is either a redirection of anger at the mother or anger at the stranger because she is not the mother. This latter point raises the question of distinguishing “fear” of strangers from this kind of rejection. For the sake of consistency, all instances of resistance to the stranger have been included in this scale, including clear protest at the entrance of the stranger (in Episode 7), or her approach, or her attempt to make contact. Similar protests at the return or approach of the mother are also included here.

7 Very Intense and Persistent Resistance. The baby shows two or more of the following behaviors in the episode being coded:

  1. Repeated hitting of the person, or other similar directed aggressive behavior;
  2. Strong resistance to being held, shown by pushing away strongly, struggling, or strongly squirming to be put down;
  3. A full-blown temper tantrum, with angry screaming—the baby either being rigid and stiff or throwing himself about, kicking the floor, batting his hands up and down, and the like;
  4. Angry resistance to attempts of the adult to control the baby’s posture, location, or action;
  5. Strong and repeated pushing away, throwing down, or hitting at toys offered to him.

6 Intense and/or Persistent Resistance. Any one of the following behaviors:

  1. Repeated or persistent temper tantrum, with throwing self about, kicking, and/or rigid, stiff, angry screaming;
  2. Very strong and/or persistent struggle against being held;
  3. Definite and repeated rejection of the person, even in the absence of directed aggression or angry screaming;
  4. Repeated, strong rejection of toys—pushing away, throwing down—accompanied by an angry cry or fuss;
  5. A combination of less intense manifestations of resistance, including squirming to be put down, resistance to interference, refusal of contact, rejection of toys, and petulance.

5 Some Resistance, Either Less Intense, or, if Intense, More Isolated and Less Persistent Than the Above. Any one of the following:

  1. Repeated rejection of toys (e.g., dropping or throwing down) but with no strong pushing away or batting away. The rejection does not seem as angry as in scores of 6 or 7. At least three such behaviors.
  2. Persistent resistance to the adult when she seeks interaction—but without the intensity of struggling, pushing away, hitting, and so on of the higher scores. An example would be a fuss or increased intensity of crying whenever the adult approaches, offers a toy, and the like.
  3. Resistance to being held by the mother, shown by squirming immediately to be put down, but without the intense struggle implied in the higher scores.
  4. Persistent low-intensity pouting or cranky fussing, with at least one other manifestation of rejection, such as protesting interference, rejection of a toy, and the like.

4 Isolated but Definite Instances of Resistance in the Absence of a Pervasive Angry Mood. Any one of the following:

  1. Refusal of contact with the stranger. One definite, initial refusal, but without any implications of intense struggle.
  2. Two refusals of toy, or kicking movements, or resistance to inteference, accompanied by a cry, but without any other manifestations of rejection or angry mood.
  3. One strong but isolated behavior, accompanied by a cry—for example, angry stepping when put down, one strong refusal of toy (strong push or batting away), stiff steps when approaching (as though showing bodily resistance), and the like.
  4. One manifestation of resistance to being held by the mother, less definite than above for example, a slight jerk or push away in the context of apparent “wanting to be held,” or a definite squirm to be put down after accepting contact for at least 15 seconds.

3 Slight Resistance. Any one of the following:

  1. Two instances of resistant (or aggressive) behavior that is neither intense nor strong and is not accompanied by crying—for example, little kicks of the feet, dropping toys, and the like.
  2. One instance of resistant (or aggressive) behavior if accompanied by a pout or protest, or in itself fairly intense (and yet not covered by higher scoring categories).
  3. A marked pout, not prolonged enough to warrant a score of 5 and not accompanied by other manifestations of resistance or aggression.

2 Very Slight Resistance. Any one of the following, with no other manifestations of resistance:

  1. One isolated instance of nonintense resistance—for example, a little kick of the legs when being picked up.
  2. One brief, slight protest noise when the adult enters, or advances, or picks the baby up.

1 No Resistance. None of the above behaviors. The baby either accepts or is unresponsive to proximity, contact, or interaction offered by the adult—or he may merely avoid it. He may be occupied with other things, or he may be crying and not increase the intensity of his cry when approached by the adult. Note: Because babies nearly always resist having their noses wiped, such behavior will not be scored as resistant.

Avoidant Behavior

This variable deals with the intensity, persistence, duration, and promptness of the baby’s avoidance of proximity and of interaction even across a distance. The relevant behaviors are: increasing distance between self and the person, whether through locomotion or by leaning away from; turning the back on the person; turning the head away; averting the gaze; avoidance of meeting the person’s eyes; hiding the face; or simply ignoring the person. Ignoring the person does not refer, however, to mere exploration of the environment, especially in Episodes 2 and 3. Ignoring or avoiding the person is most marked when she is trying to gain the attention of the baby or to get a response from him. It also may be considered avoidance if the baby ignores the mother’s entrance to the room after an absence, whether or not she seeks a response from him, or if he does not respond to the entrance of the stranger or to her attempt to engage him in play or interaction.

This variable deals chiefly with interaction across a distance, whereas the resistance variable is concerned with interaction in contact or in close proximity. The two sets of behaviors are usually easy to distinguish, because resistance is so frequently tinged with anger or aggressive movement, while avoidance seems either to be neutral in tone or perhaps to reflect apprehension. The more neutral the tone of the avoidance, however, the more likely it seems to be defensive in character—a defense that hides feelings, perhaps including those of resentment.

Although in the case of the other variables, behavior in interaction with mother or stranger could be comprehended in the same categories, in this coding it seems necessary to distinguish between mother and stranger.

7 Very Marked and Persistent Avoidance.

Of mother: The baby does not greet the mother upon her return in a reunion episode (Episode 5 or 8)—neither with a smile nor with a protest. He pays little or no attention to her for an extended period despite the mother’s efforts to attract his attention. He ignores her, and may turn his back to her. If his mother nevertheless picks him up, he remains unresponsive to her while she holds him, looking around, seemingly interested in other things.

Of stranger: The baby repeatedly and persistently avoids the stranger, by some kind of strong behavior, either locomotor withdrawal or hiding the face, perhaps combined with looking away. In Episode 3 the baby may go to his mother in his repeated withdrawals from the stranger.

6 Marked and Persistent Avoidance.

Of mother: (a) The baby behaves as above, giving the mother no greeting, except perhaps an initial look, and paying little or no attention to her for an extended period; but in this case the mother does not persist in her attempt to gain the baby’s attention—she merely greets him and then sits quietly. Or (b) the baby greets his mother, perhaps with a smile or a fuss or with a partial approach, and then behaves as above, paying little or no attention to the mother for an extended period, despite the mother’s efforts to attract his attention.

Of stranger: This score is reserved for an episode in which the end of the episode comes before it is confirmed that the baby’s avoidance would have been repeated and persistent. The baby strongly withdraws from the stranger with behavior and in a context that makes it seem very probable that the avoidance would have been persistent had the episode not ended.

5 Clear-Cut Avoidance But Less Persistent.

Of mother:

  1. The baby may look, but gives the mother no greeting, then looks away, or turns away and ignores the mother for about 30 seconds, during which time the mother makes no special effort to gain his attention; then he looks again and seems more responsive to her, but he does not seek contact and may even avoid it if it is offered.
  2. The baby gives the mother no greeting; the mother strives to gain his attention; after about 15 seconds he gives her his attention but he is fairly unresponsive even then.
  3. The baby greets his mother or starts to approach her, but then he either markedly turns away (or looks away) or tries to go past her out the door; he ignores her efforts to gain his attention for an appreciable time, although he may then respond by approaching, reaching, or accepting a toy.

Of stranger: The baby repeatedly and persistently avoids the stranger, but without the intensity of the avoidance implicit in a coding of 7. In Episode 3 the baby may retreat to his mother, but without apparent intense anxiety, and then later show some other clear-cut manifestation of avoidance of the stranger. Regardless of the episode, the baby clearly does not want to have anything to do with the stranger—neither contact nor interaction—but his efforts to avoid her do not have the frantic persistence of those coded 7.

4 Brief But Clear-Cut Avoidance OR Persistent Low-Keyed Avoidance.

Of mother:

  1. The baby greets his mother or starts to approach her; he then clearly turns away or looks away as in 5c. In this instance, however, the mother goes to her chair and sits, without making any effort to elicit responsiveness in the baby. The baby goes on playing, perhaps with occasional looks and smiles at the mother; both behave (in a reunion episode) much as the average couple in Episode 2. In view of the mother’s lack of participation, one can be justified in counting only the initial avoidance behavior (i.e., that following greeting) as avoidance on the baby’s part. It is assumed that he is not ignoring his mother and that he would approach her or respond to her if given a cue.
  2. The baby at first “snubs” the mother by failing to greet her and either by being slow to look at her or by looking away or both (or perhaps by trying to go out the door); but after this initial avoidance behavior, the baby responds by reaching to the mother’s outstretched hands and/or by regaining responsiveness after being picked up.
  3. The baby fails to greet his mother and ignores her for a time (15 to 30 seconds) and then takes the initiative in making contact or undertaking interaction, even though the mother has not sought his attention.

Of stranger:

  1. The baby shows one clear-cut avoidance or several slight ones, but at least looks at the stranger and at what she is doing for part of the episode, even though there is no positive response to her.
  2. The baby persistently avoids meeting the stranger’s eyes with his. He may watch her, but as soon as she looks at him he averts his gaze; but there is no stronger instance of avoidance than this.

3 Slight, Isolated Avoidance Behavior.

Of mother:

  1. The baby is distressed and is slow either in looking at his mother or in responding to her overtures—but then he does, either crying more loudly or reaching or both.
  2. The baby is not distressed; he looks up at his mother when she arrives, perhaps greeting her, then looks away briefly; then he is responsive, either interacting with her or exchanging looks and smiles in the course of play. He does not, however, take the initiative in seeking contact.

Of stranger:

  1. In Episode 3 the baby at one point retreats from the stranger to his mother, but without apparent anxiety. He does not approach the stranger, but on the other hand he does not further avoid the stranger’s advances in this episode.
  2. One isolated but clear-cut instance of avoidance of the stranger, by twisting away, turning away, or moving back a little; but for the rest of the episode the baby accepts the stranger’s advances and may be fairly friendly, or, if the episode ends soon, there is no implication that the avoidance will be persistent.

2 Very Slight Avoidance.

Of mother: The baby may delay very briefly in responding to his mother’s return or may give her a brief snub by looking away, but very soon he takes the initiative in seeking contact or interaction with or proximity to her.

Of stranger: One slight instance of avoidance of the stranger. The baby who is not distressed (because of separation) may look away coyly or turn away momentarily as the stranger approaches, or perhaps he may seem to avoid her eyes for a while. The baby who is distressed by separation may not be responsive to the stranger, but he shows only one slight instance of avoidance—looking away or moving his hands away.

1 No Avoidance.

Of mother: The baby responds appropriately to his mother and to her behavior, neither avoiding her overtures nor ignoring her return after an absence. In Episode 2, however, he may be quite preoccupied with exploration while she sits quietly; and in Episode 3, he may be absorbed either with continuing exploratory play or with staring at the stranger.

Of stranger: The baby may be friendly with the stranger. He may be too distressed by his mother’s absence to be friendly. He may angrily resist the stranger or the toy she offers. He may continue playing, paying little spontaneous attention to the stranger. But he does not avoid the stranger, and he at least watches her when she tries to interest him in toys.

Search Behavior During The Separation Episodes

This variable deals with the degree of activity and persistence of behavior that may be interpreted as an attempt to search for and to regain the mother during the episodes when she is absent from the room. Of these behaviors the most obviously appropriate, even though necessarily ineffective, is following the mother to the door and trying to open it. The efforts to open it or to get someone to open it include trying to insert the fingers in the crack of the door or under it, trying to reach the knob or looking up at the knob, which is beyond reach, or banging on the door. Also relevant to a desire to regain the mother is merely looking at the door or at the mother’s chair or handbag, or going to one of these locations associated with the mother and remaining oriented to it for longer or shorter periods of time. Crying may also be interpreted as behavior that signals the baby’s desire for his mother to return; but it is not included in the present scoring system, but rather it is dealt with in a separate analysis.

7 Very Active and Persistent Search Behavior. The baby goes to the door without substantial delay (within 45 seconds). He either tries to open it, or reaches for the knob, or bangs on the door. Either he remains at the door and oriented to it for 30 seconds or more after his initial effort to open it, or he returns again to the door after leaving it.

6 Active and Persistent Search Behavior. Any one of the following:

  1. The baby goes promptly to the door and stays there persistently. He either looks up at the knob or touches the door, but he does not try to open it, reach for the knob, or bang on the door. Even though he may be crying hard, he remains oriented to the door.
  2. The baby delays in going to the door (i.e., for over 45 seconds) but then tries to open it or reaches for the knob or bangs on the door; he remains at the door for 30 seconds or more or returns to the door after leaving it (i.e., the same behavior that is scored 7, except for the initial delay).
  3. The baby makes an active effort to reach the door but is prevented from actually reaching it or from staying there, either because he is picked up and held by the stranger or because the episode is curtailed. It is assumed that he would have displayed 6a behavior had the intervention not occurred.
  4. The baby repeatedly goes to the door and touches it at least once, although he neither tries to open it nor remains near the door for an extended time.

5 Some Active Search. Any one of the following:

  1. The baby goes to the door across a fair distance (i.e., he is not already within a couple of steps of the door); but, either because of delay or because of absence of active effort to open the door or because he does not remain near the door and oriented to it, his behavior cannot be scored 6 or 7.
  2. In Episode 7 the baby is at the door when the stranger enters, and he tries to go out the door and/or helps to open the door.
  3. The baby struggles hard to go to the door, but he is so distressed that his locomotion is too inefficient for him to be able to get to the door.
  4. The baby is held by the stranger and therefore cannot go to the door, but nevertheless he strongly and persistently leans or reaches toward the door out of the stranger’s arms.

4 Obvious Desire to Regain the Mother, But the “Search” Behavior is Incomplete or Weak.

  1. The baby displays five or more instances of “weak” search behavior—for example, looking at the door, looking at the mother’s chair, or going to the mother’s chair or to her handbag.
  2. The baby begins to approach the door but goes only part way.
  3. The baby is near the door and goes the whole way to the door, but he does not touch the door and he does not remain there for more than a few seconds.
  4. The baby goes to the mother’s chair in a purposeful way (i.e., he does not merely happen to get there in pursuit of a toy or in the course of exploration); in addition he shows one other instance of weak search behavior.

3 Some Apparent Desire to Regain the Mother, But the Search Behavior is Weak. Any one of the following:

  1. The baby displays three or four instances of “weak” search behavior, as defined above.
  2. The baby looks at the door and continues doing so for at least 30 seconds or for all of a curtailed episode of less than 30 seconds.
  3. The baby goes to the mother’s chair in a purposeful way; this is the only instance of search behavior he displays.

2 Very Slight Effort to Search for the Mother. The baby displays only one or two instances of weak search behavior, which includes looking at the door, looking at the mother’s chair or handbag, or making a mere intention movement toward the door (e.g., taking one or two steps toward the door when at a distance from it), or going to the mother’s chair in such a way that it is doubtful whether the approach was purposeful.

1 No Search for the Mother. Episodes will be scored I whenever the baby does not go to or look at the door and does not go to or look at the mother’s chair or handbag. He may, however, show any one of the following behaviors that are not identified as search in Episode 4 looking at the mother’s chair as the first perception of her absence (i.e., the baby has not seen the mother leave the room); looking at the door at the very end of a separation episode, in probable response to hearing a person outside and about to enter. In other words, “search behavior” occurs after the baby perceives his mother’s departure or absence and before the mother (or stranger) gives an auditory cue of her impending entrance.

Distance Interaction

This variable deals with positive social behaviors—smiling, vocalizing, intent looking, showing of toy, and play—that indicate that a baby is interested in the adult, although he may not be in close proximity to her. The term “distance interaction” is defined to include behaviors that can occur across the room from the adult or in the course of a partial approach to her, but not those that occur immediately preceding or during a full approach.

In the scoring and in defining distance interaction, distinction has been made between mother and stranger in some cases. Interaction that occurs between mother and infant in Episodes 2, 5, and 8 and is instigated by the mother upon instructions to engage or reengage the baby in play is not scored as distance interaction, because it is not spontaneous and because it occurs when mother and infant are in close proximity. (Otherwise, contingencies of both maternal and infant behavior have been taken into account in the coding.) On the other hand, the responses to the stranger’s systematic approaches in Episode 3 have been coded as distance interaction, for it is of interest to note how readily and enthusiastically the baby accepts and responds to the social overtures of an unfamiliar person. Separate provision has also been made for distance interaction that may occur immediately following reunion with the mother in Episodes 5 and 8.

7 Very Active and Persistent Distance Interaction.

  1. The baby and the adult establish a reciprocal interaction that lasts for 45 seconds or longer; or they establish briefer reciprocal interactions twice in the course of the episode.
  2. The baby offers or shows a toy to the adult two or more times in the course of the episode, although he does not seek proximity to her in order to do so.
  3. The baby appears to pause and attend to what the adult is saying for 45 seconds or more; or he does so twice in the course of the episode for briefer periods. This is reported as attending by the observers, and is clearly more than mere occasional looking at the adult when she speaks.

Reunions only. The baby does not make an immediate approach to his mother, but he greets her within 15 seconds by smiling, showing a toy, or vocalizing; and he is responsive to her in the course of the episode. That is, he smiles and vocalizes to her and engages in a reciprocal interaction with her at least once in the course of the episode.

6 Very Active and Fairly Persistent Distance Interaction. The baby engages in a reciprocal interaction, briefer than the above. He pushes a toy back and forth to the adult in play, or he takes a toy and gestures to the adult about it. Or he engages in a brief reciprocal vocalization or smiling exchange.

Reunions only. The baby does not make an immediate full approach to his mother, but he greets her within 15 seconds with a smile, a show of a toy, or a vocalization and is responsive to her in the course of the episode. He smiles and vocalizes to her five or more times, or he may offer the mother a toy or otherwise attempt to communicate with her about his environment. However, no reciprocal interaction occurs.

5 Active Distance Interaction.

Mother. The baby smiles and vocalizes to his mother four or more times in the course of the episode.

Reunions only. The baby does not make an immediate full approach to his mother but instead greets her within 15 seconds with a smile, a show of a toy, or a vocalization; he makes other distal bids (smiles, vocalizations, showing a toy) three or four other times in the course of the episode.

Stranger. The baby takes a toy directly from the stranger and offers her a toy once in the course of the episode; or he indicates a toy to her by pointing or trying to communicate to her about it.

4 Moderate Distance Interaction.


  1. The baby smiles or vocalizes to his mother two or three times in the course of the episode.
  2. The baby gestures about a toy or points out something in the room to his mother once in the course of the episode.

Reunions only. The baby does not make an immediate full approach to his mother, but greets her with a smile or a vocalization within 15 seconds, and also smiles or vocalizes to her twice subsequently in the course of the episode.


  1. The baby accepts more or less readily a toy that the stranger offers, perhaps smiling at her; but he shows no tendency to reciprocate by engaging her in further play.
  2. The baby vocalizes and/or smiles to the stranger three times during the episode.

3 Little Distance Interaction.


  1. The baby looks at the mother frequently in the course of his exploration (these are described as more than glances or very brief looks); and he orients to her for more than 15 seconds at least once during the episode, perhaps smiling at her.
  2. The mother initiates an interaction across the distance with the baby by smiling at or vocalizing to the baby, and she receives a smile or two in the course of the episode. But the baby takes no initiative in interactive bids during the episode.

Reunions Only

  1. The baby may smile at his mother when she enters initially, and he may be happy to see her; but he does not make an immediate full approach. Either because he later achieves contact or because he glances at his mother, or vocalizes to her only once in the course of the ensuing episode, he does not get a higher score.
  2. The baby greets his mother with a smile upon reunion, but he shows no tendency to seek her proximity. However, the mother picks him up. Because one can infer that he would have made more distal bids had the mother not intervened, the baby receives this score.


  1. If the stranger approaches the baby, he may look at her attentively, as well as at the toy that she is offering. However, he does not directly take the toy that she brings, although he may make an “intention movement” toward it. This score is different from a score of 2 because, in this case, the baby is obviously more directly interested in the stranger.
  2. The baby smiles at and/or vocalizes to the stranger twice in the course of the episode.

2 Very Little Distance Interaction.

Mother. The baby glances at the mother four or more times in the course of the episode, and he might vocalize to and/or smile to her once; but he engages in no more active type of distance interaction.

Reunions only. The baby does not make an immediate full approach. He may look at his mother initially, twisting around briefly to see her, and he may be described as having a pleasant expression on his face. If he is not picked up, he may occasionally look at her (five or fewer times), but he engages in no more active types of behavior.


  1. The baby may pause and stare at the stranger with obvious curiosity, or he may glance at her frequently (five or more times). But beyond this, he shows no tendency to engage her socially.
  2. If the stranger offers the baby a toy, he may focus his attention on it, perhaps making a slight intention movement toward it; or he may pick it up after the stranger has put it down. Hence he is interacting with her indirectly, but he gives her no more direct attention than a few brief glances.

1 No Distance Interaction.

Mother and Stranger

  1. The baby makes no bids for distance interaction with the adult. He may glance briefly at her (two or three times); or if she attempts to engage his attention, he may look at her at least part of the time. However, he shows no further tendency to interact with her.
  2. The baby may be distressed and may seek proximity to and/or contact with the adult. He may look at the adult a few times before approaching, but he seems to want physical closeness. Although he may be highly responsive to the adult while in contact or while standing by her chair, he shows no desire to increase the distance between them.


  1. The baby is distressed when the stranger approaches. He may accept her or prefer to ignore her. He may look briefly at a toy that she offers, but he is completely unwilling to become involved with it. Note: If the baby responds positively to what the stranger is doing for at least part of the time, he receives a higher score than 1.
  2. The stranger does not approach the baby. He confines himself to giving her a few brief glances that do not linger on her face and that are not meant to evoke a social response from her; or he gives her one or two more prolonged looks with no interactive tendencies.