Descriptive Account of Behavior in Each Episode - Measures and Methods of Assessment

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

Descriptive Account of Behavior in Each Episode
Measures and Methods of Assessment

The results are presented in nine chapters, the first two constitute a normative account of the behavior of 1-year-olds in the strange situation. Chapter 4 provides a description of the ways in which the 106 infants in our total sample typically responded in each episode of the strange situation. Chapter 5 gives a broad picture of behavior across episodes, presented in terms of our major frequency and social-interaction measures.

The next three chapters deal with individual differences. Chapter 6 first reports the distribution of infants into the three main classificatory groups and then presents the results of a multiple discriminant function analysis, which checks whether the three groups do indeed differ significantly from one another and investigates the nature of their differences. Chapter 7 compares individual differences in infants’ strange-situation behavior with individual differences in their behavior at home in both the first and fourth quarters of the first year. The findings indicate that the quality of an infant’s interaction with his mother, as assessed in the strange situation, reflects certain long-standing features of his behavior toward her. Chapter 8, which compares infant strange-situation behavior with maternal behavior at home, suggests that the mother’s contribution to the interaction between them also relates significantly to the quality of the infants attachment to her.

The next two chapters review the findings of other investigators who have used our strange-situation procedure with little or no change in the nature, length, or order of the episodes. Chapter 9 reviews studies of 1-year-olds in the strange situation, whereas Chapter 10 reviews studies of children between 2 and 4 years of age. Not only do the results of these investigations tend to confirm and/or extend the findings reported here, but our present findings help to clarify the issues and points of controversy raised by some of these other investigations. Because one of these issues is stability of strange-situation behavior over time, it seemed suitable to present Chapter 11, which reports on the effects of repeating the strange situation after a time interval.

Finally, Chapter 12 considers the matter of classification into subgroups, as well as into the three major classificatory groups. We consider it necessary to include this chapter, for it seems important to throw what light we can on an integral part of our classificatory procedure, although it is of less interest to the general reader than the other chapters.


Here we present a descriptive account of how the 1-year-olds in our sample dealt with the vicissitudes of the strange situation. This description gives some indication of the ways in which the average baby responded to the sequence of episodes with which he was faced, and serves as an introduction to the normative trends of each of the behavioral measures presented in the next chapter. The description also suggests the nature and scope of individual differences. It remains for other chapters to show how individual differences in the various measures are related to each other and to behavior in the home environment.

Episode 1

Because Episode 1 was a very brief introductory episode in which the baby was carried into the experimental room by his mother, little can be said about it. Most infants looked around the room with apparent interest and without seeming alarmed. Indeed, 7% strained from their mothers’ arms toward the toys as though they were eager to get to them. Even while still in their mothers’ arms, however, 11% showed distress upon encountering the unfamiliar environment, giving a cry or a fuss.

Episode 2

Most infants accepted being put down by their mothers in the unfamiliar situation at the very beginning of Episode 2. Only 9% briefly resisted release either by clinging or by vocal protest. Twenty-eight percent moved toward the toys immediately, and 78% had begun to approach them within 1 minute. Only two babies moved to explore other aspects of the room first. Of the remainder who delayed, a few (13%) went to the mother, but the rest remained sitting, looking at the toys and perhaps occasionally at the mother. Only 2% of the sample first approached the toys during the second minute of the episode. The 20% who had not spontaneously approached the toys during the first 2 minutes were encouraged to do so by their mothers or were actually carried to the toys. With this encouragement all but one infant at least touched a toy.

Ninety-four percent1 engaged in active manipulative behavior during Episode 2. Eighty-nine percent showed locomotion in the course of approaching, pursuing, or otherwise attending to a toy or some other feature of the physical environment. All exhibited at least visual exploratory behavior.

Nevertheless, some infants (12%) cried at some time during Episode 2, although this tended to be brief fussing. There were a few, therefore, who found the strange situation mildly disturbing, even before the stranger and separations from the mother were introduced. Fifteen babies (14%) approached the mother, including five of those who fussed; and 14 of them actually made contact with her on their own initiative. Of those who approached the mother and made contact, the mean latency to achieve contact was 55 seconds.

In Episode 2, 53% of the total sample smiled at the mother, although on the average they did so only once during the episode. Eighty percent vocalized at some time during the episode, although only 47% vocalized directly to their mothers, and on the average did so only once. All of the infants looked at their mothers at least once during the episode, and most could be described either as keeping visual tabs on their mothers by occasional glances or, perhaps, as seeking reassurance through these glances.

Thus, it is clear that for the great majority of these 1-year-olds the unfamiliar situation activated exploratory rather than attachment behavior, and this exploration tended to be sustained throughout most of the episode. Only a small minority displayed either alarm or proximity seeking in this least stressful of all episodes. Most kept visual tabs on their mothers or smiled and vocalized to her across a distance, but on the whole they paid much more attention to the toys than to their mothers.

Episode 3

In Episode 3 our chief interest was to observe how a baby responds to a stranger in the presence of his mother. Behavior toward the stranger certainly dominated this episode.

All forms of exploratory behavior decreased precipitously. Only 51% of the sample engaged in exploratory locomotion. Ninety-two percent continued to manipulate toys, but the amount of such behavior diminished substantially. Nearly all babies continued visual exploration, but they spent more time looking at the stranger than at the toys. All babies looked at the stranger when she entered, and 58% stared at her for periods lasting from 5 to 45 seconds.

Bretherton and Ainsworth (1974) have reported in detail the infants’ responses to the stranger and have compared it with their behavior toward the mother in Episode 3; their findings are all summarized here. Very few (4%) cried or fussed when the stranger first entered, although as many as 23% evinced some distress at some time during the total episode. Some fussed or cried as a delayed response to the stranger’s entrance, and 8% cried when the stranger actually approached them in the third minute of the episode.

On the other hand, 18% of the sample greeted the stranger’s entrance with a smile, and 58% smiled at her at least once in Episode 3—significantly more than the number (37%) who smiled at the mother, and even slightly more (53%) than those who had smiled at the mother in Episode 2. When the stranger actually approached in the third minute of Episode 3, only 12% of the babies smiled, however.

Although smiling increased in Episode 3, vocalization decreased. Whereas 80% of the sample vocalized at some time in Episode 2, only 56% did so in Episode 3. Only 19% directed vocalizations toward their mothers in this episode, in contrast with the 47% who did so in Episode 2. Twenty-five percent directed vocalizations toward the stranger.

Very few infants (9%) showed any tendency to approach the stranger during the first 2 minutes of Episode 3 while the stranger sat in her chair, and only 3% actually approached and touched her. This is a striking contrast to the babies’ responses to the toys in Episode 2, when 80% approached and touched the toys within the first two minutes. Apparently the stranger, while evoking some sociable2 behavior (smiling) across a distance, does not evoke approach, whether the latter be considered sociable or exploratory.

We follow Bretherton and Ainsworth’s (1974) interpretation of these findings—namely, that the stranger tends to activate in nearly all infants wary behavior that conflicts with the friendly behavior that tends to be evoked by an unfamiliar person who behaves pleasantly and tactfully.

Wariness and its conflict with a sociable tendency is shown in several ways in addition to actual crying. One way is gaze aversion. When the stranger first entered, 30% of the babies averted their gaze from the stranger after looking at her—that is, they looked away but did not do so in order to look at something else, whether the mother, or a toy; they looked at the floor or off into space. Twenty-one percent similarly averted their gaze when the stranger later approached them in the third minute of the episode. Sometimes the gaze aversion gave the impression of coyness—a sidewise cocking or ducking of the head, often accompanied by a smile. More frequently a baby either interrupted prolonged staring by briefly averting his gaze or looked away after a brief glance at the stranger, only to follow this with another hurried look. Another manifestation of wariness was moving away from the stranger. Almost invariably such avoidance implied seeking to be closer to the mother. Before considering approach to the mother, however, let us give further attention to looking behavior.

The stranger, rather than the mother, seemed the focus of the babies’ visual attention. During the first minute, when the stranger was sitting quietly in her chair, the babies looked at her more frequently (X̄ = 4.2) than at the mother (X̄ = 1.7). While the mother and stranger conversed during the second minute, they still looked more frequently at the stranger (X̄ = 3.2 in comparison with X̄ = 2.0). During the third minute, when the stranger approached and tried to engage the baby in play, nearly all the looks went to the stranger (X̄ = 3.8 in comparison with (X̄ = 1.2). All these differences are highly significant (Bretherton & Ainsworth, 1974). Nevertheless all but 4% of the sample glanced at the mother at least once, and most of them seemed to be alert to their mothers’ whereabouts. Despite the mothers’ attempts to leave unobtrusively at the end of the episode while the stranger was engaging the baby in play, 65% of the sample clearly noticed her departure, although not all looked up before she had left.

During Episode 3 more babies (31%) approached the mother than in Episode 2 (14%), and 13% more attracted the mother into closer proximity through signaling behavior. Nearly half the sample (44%) were thus successful in getting into close proximity with the mother, and 30% actually achieved physical contact with her. These approaches implied a retreat to the mother from the stranger, as though for reassurance, for the babies continued to scrutinize the stranger after gaining proximity or contact with the mother. Only 8%, however, stayed in continuous proximity to the mother throughout most of Episode 3.

Ten infants spontaneously approached the stranger during the first 2 minutes of Episode 3, five fully and five partially; nine of these retreated to the mother after their excursion toward the stranger. In all, 19 infants approached the stranger at some time during the whole episode. Of these, 17 also approached the mother. Thus only two babies who were bold enough to approach the stranger did not also at some time retreat to the mother. Retreat to the mother therefore does not seem necessarily to imply extreme fear of the stranger but, often enough, merely wariness. The alternation between approach to the stranger and retreat to the mother objectifies the conflict between sociable behavior to the stranger, on one hand, and both wary behavior evoked by the stranger and attachment behavior directed toward the mother, on the other hand.

During the last minute of Episode 3, the stranger approached the baby and attempted to engage him in interaction by offering him a toy. Eighty-five infants (80%) were near the toys rather than near the mother at this point. Most of them remained where they were, eight approached the stranger, and nine withdrew from her—all but one of these retreating to the mother. Of the 20% who happened to be close to the mother when the stranger approached, all either continued to hold on to her or actually initiated contact with her at this point. Nevertheless, the stranger induced all but two of the babies who were or got into contact with the mother at the time of her approach to let go of the mother by the end of Episode 3.

The stranger’s offer of a toy met with varied reactions, which seem to reflect various degrees of wariness. Only five of the babies actively rejected the toy; 21% mildly snubbed it by turning their attention to another toy; 11% made intention movements toward it; 16% reached for it but did not take it; 9% touched it gingerly and then withdrew the hand. One baby would not even look at the stranger’s toy. Nevertheless, 56 (53%) eventually accepted the toy; of these, 29 played with it briefly, and seven were enticed into interactive play. Thus, despite a high incidence of mildly wary behavior, half the sample could be induced by a friendly stranger to come or to remain close enough to accept the toy she offered and, thus, in a sense, to accept her; for it seemed that the babies considered the stranger’s toy to be somehow an extension of her.

If accepting close proximity to the stranger and taking a toy from her represents a tipping of the balance from wary to sociable behavior to a greater extent than accepting the stranger at a distance, this raises a question about the role of smiling in response to a stranger. Smiling was infrequent when the stranger was close, but fairly common when she was at a distance. This suggests that smiling is not incompatible with wary behavior; and when in a context activating wariness, rather than inviting proximity, it seems to be placatory—a way of acknowledging the stranger while appraising her.

Episode 4

As mentioned earlier, a majority of the babies noticed the mother’s unobtrusive departure at the end of Episode 3, and all the rest seemed sooner or later to realize that she had gone. Separation protest, however, was by no means invariably activated by the baby’s realization of the mother’s departure. Only 20% of the sample cried immediately after the mother left, and no more than 49% cried at any time during this episode. Of those who cried, the mean latency to cry was 64 seconds. Infants who were highly distressed were in the minority. For only 19% of the sample did the episode have to be curtailed, and for only 10% did this need to be done before 2 minutes had elapsed.

However, crying was not the only indication that a baby missed his mother. Exploratory behavior declined substantially. Only 37% of the sample exhibited any exploratory locomotion, and only 18% moved about as much as they had in Episode 2. Exploratory manipulation was shown by most infants in this episode (81%), but only 36% maintained at least their level in Episode 2. Only visual exploration held up, manifested by 95% of the sample.

Another indication that a baby misses his mother is his search for her. Strong search behavior was not conspicuous in this episode, however. Only 10% followed the mother to the door when she left; only 21% went to the door at any time during the episode; and only 8% touched the door, banged on it, or tried to open it. Thirteen percent both followed and cried; 8% followed but did not cry; 37% cried but did not follow. (We have wondered whether the fact that the stranger’s chair, and often the stranger, were closer to the door than the baby may have prevented some from going to the door in this episode.) Thirty percent of the sample, however, showed no sign of disturbance at the mother’s absence; they continued to explore actively and neither cried nor went to the door.

Weaker forms of search were more common than following to the door. Twelve percent approached the mother’s chair. The commonest form of search behavior was looking at the door (63%) or looking toward the mother’s chair and/or handbag (45%). Only 29% showed no form of search behavior.

The behavior of the stranger during Episode 4 was contingent upon the behavior of the baby. Usually the stranger continued her efforts to engage the baby in play for at least a few seconds after the mother had left. Although she had been instructed to withdraw to her chair if the baby was playing satisfactorily, she prolonged her efforts to play with him if he showed signs of becoming upset. If he seemed about to cry after she had withdrawn, she usually resumed her efforts to play with him in the hope of distracting him. The stranger offered a toy to 95 of the 106 infants in the sample. Twenty-eight of the infants to whom such an offer was made accepted the toy immediately, even though some only touched it momentarily before resuming crying. Twenty-six of the infants accepted the stranger’s toy after some delay. Only eight actually pushed the toy away, seeming to reject the stranger in rejecting her toy.

As implied earlier, the stranger frequently offered interaction in an attempt to avert crying and not merely as a distraction after crying had emerged. Consequently a substantial minority of infants (33%) played well with the stranger for most of Episode 4—somewhat more than had engaged in interactive play with her during the last minute of Episode 3. Other positive responses to the stranger were not uncommon. These included smiling (42%) and vocalizing (23%). Fewer babies smiled or vocalized to the stranger, however, than in Episode 3 when the mother was present. On the other hand, few babies actively avoided the stranger. Only 17% turned away from her—substantially fewer than had done either in Episode 3.

If a crying baby could not be distracted from his distress by attempts to reengage him in play, the stranger was very likely to pick him up in an effort to console him. In Episode 4 only 30 (28%) were picked up, all because they were crying. Of these, 10 had shown some desire for contact by reaching or leaning toward the stranger. Nevertheless the stranger was usually unsuccessful in soothing the baby completely by picking him up. Only five responded positively to being picked up, by decreasing or stopping crying, or by clinging or holding on to the stranger. Over twice as many responded negatively to the pick-up by stiffening, squirming, trying to get down, or by increasing the intensity of crying. Of the 30 who were picked up, 14 showed mixed responses to the stranger, appearing to find some comfort by clinging or sinking in; but they also cried harder, resisted the stranger, or turned away from her.

Of the 25 who responded negatively or with mixed positive and negative behavior to being picked up by the stranger, 23 cried as hard as or harder than before, six became stiff or rigid in the stranger’s arms, and nine squirmed or struggled to get down, leaned back or away from the stranger, or kicked. Another four pushed away from either the stranger or the toy she was offering, and four resisted the stranger’s attempts to pick them up.

As might be expected from the high incidence of negative or mixed responses to being held, the stranger who had picked up a distressed infant tended somewhat more frequently (in 17 of 30 instances) to put him down rather than to continue holding him. Of those whom she attempted to put down, six protested by crying, but only one actively clung in an effort to maintain contact. Of these six who protested, two had responded totally positively to contact, whereas four had had negative or mixed responses.

In summary, Episode 4 tended to be dominated by responses to the mother’s absence, in contrast to Episode 2, dominated by exploration, and to Episode 3, dominated by responses to the stranger. Nevertheless, a substantial minority of infants played with the stranger in Episode 4. Of those who were distressed by their mothers’ absence, however, few could be truly comforted by the stranger; ambivalence or outright rejection was more common.

Episode 5

It was expected that most infants would exhibit heightened attachment behavior in this reunion episode. Our analysis focused on greeting behaviors when the mother first enters, and upon the baby’s attempts through the rest of the episode to establish or to sustain interaction, proximity, or actual contact with her. (We had also intended to examine the infant’s response to hearing the mother call him before she actually opened the door to enter, expecting that the behavior of the average baby would clearly reflect the fact that he heard his mother’s call. This “anticipatory” response, however, was infrequent, and because the observers could not hear the call, they could not link infant behavior to this auditory stimulus.)

During the first 15 seconds following the mother’s entrance, 78% of the sample greeted her by approaching, reaching, smiling, vocalizing, or indeed by crying. The single most common form of greeting was approach; 22% made a full approach to contact the mother, and 8% a partial approach. Signaling desire for contact by reaching or leaning was shown by another 19%. Not all mothers responded to these behaviors by picking the baby up, but within the first 15 seconds, 33% of the babies had actually achieved contact. Some babies greeted their mothers across a distance, without an obvious signal for contact; thus 13% merely smiled and 3% merely vocalized. Some (32%) greeted the mother with a cry, or, if they were already crying, increased the intensity of their crying; but only 14% merely cried without mingling this distressed greeting with more active or more positive greeting behavior. Most infants greeted their mothers with a compound kind of greeting—smiling and approaching; crying and reaching; crying, smiling, approaching, and reaching; and many other combinations.

A substantial minority (22%) did not greet their mothers upon reunion. Nineteen percent merely looked, without giving another signal of acknowledgment, and 3% (excluding those who were crying so hard as to be oblivious to the mother’s entrance) ignored her altogether. In addition to those who ignored the mother, 23% turned away or looked away from her after first looking at her or even after greeting her, and another 4% crawled or walked away from her. Thus 30% showed some initial avoidance behavior.

During the whole episode 51% showed some avoidance of the mother. Six percent moved away from her, and 24% turned away. Twenty percent conspicuously ignored the mother at some point in the episode, by failing to respond when she talked to him or by failing to acknowledge her presence with more than a momentary glance. Prolonged ignoring, lasting more than a minute, was infrequent however, occurring in only 8% of the infants.

Nearly all the crying in Episode 5 was linked to the preceding separation. Forty-two percent of the babies were crying when the mother returned, but most of them stopped crying with relatively little delay. The mean latency to stop crying after achieving contact with the mother was 12 seconds, and the mean latency without contact was 16.3 seconds.

Mothers differed in their behavior after the first 15 seconds, in part but not wholly because of the babies’ initial behavior. Many (41%) went to their chairs immediately after entering the room. A few (5%) immediately attempted to reengage the baby in play with the toys. Others picked the baby up or continued to hold him if he had already been picked up, although there were great individual differences in the duration of the holding. Seventy-four percent of those who were picked up were held less than 30 seconds, whereas only 7% were held for over 120 seconds. Some mothers might have held their babies longer had it not been for the instruction to get the baby settled again in play with the toys.

At some time time during the episode, 50% of the infants approached the mother at least once, and some made several approaches. Only 37% actually achieved physical contact with her, however, and most of these did so during the first 15 seconds. Some babies did not seek proximity, others were content with mere proximity, and still others who obviously desired contact were not requited in this desire by their mothers.

Of the 37 babies who were held by the mother, six relaxed, sinking in or molding their bodies to adjust to the mother’s; 20 put their arms around the mother; and 15 clung actively. When their mothers attempted to release them, 16 (43%) cried in protest, while 12 (32%) actively resisted release by clinging or otherwise attempting to regain contact.

Not all infants responded positively to being picked up. Two gave a little kick, and two either increased their level of crying or fussed intermittently while being held. Three either squirmed, trying to get down from the mother’s lap, or leaned away from her while being held.

Acting in accordance with our instructions, mothers attempted to rekindle the baby’s interest in the toys. Some showed sensitive timing in this, giving the baby a concentrated period of cuddling and soothing before trying to turn his attention away from her. Others tended to hurry the soothing and thus either prolonged the period during which the baby sought to maintain contact or elicited resistant behaviors. Five of the babies to whom the mother offered a toy dropped it, and 9 showed even stronger resistance, batting at it or throwing it away. Eight turned away from the toy.

In any event, the episode was prolonged if necessary until the baby had actually begun to play again. Consequently 96% of the infants managed some exploratory manipulation in this episode, although the amount of such activity was below that characteristic of Episode 2. We cannot know what proportion would have returned to exploratory play had their mothers not stimulated them to do so.

In summary, Episode 5 was dominated by the baby’s response to his mother upon return after a brief absence. Although a majority of infants greeted the mother, only about half actively sought close proximity to her and/or physical contact, and about half showed some tendency to avoid her.

Episode 6

Distress was more frequent in the second separation episode than in Episode 4. Seventy-eight percent of the sample cried at some time during the episode, and 52% either cried through at least 150 seconds of the episode or were so distressed that the episode was curtailed. Curtailment was necessary for 53%. Forty-five percent cried immediately when the mother left the room, in contrast with 20% in Episode 4. (Indeed, some babies began to cry in Episode 5, as soon as the mother got up and made her way to the door and before she had actually left.) Of those who cried, the mean latency of the cry was 30 seconds, in contrast with 64 seconds in Episode 4.

A substantial minority (32%) went to the door immediately, whereas 59% in all made a full approach to the door at some time during Episode 6. Twenty-six percent banged on the door, touched it, or otherwise seemed to be trying to open it. Of the total sample, 47% both cried and searched strongly, 32% cried without strong searching, and 13% searched without crying. Thus 93% attempted to regain the absent mother either through following, through signaling (crying), or both. Weak forms of search behavior were also shown by the majority of infants: 77% looked at the door, and 31% looked at the mother’s chair. Only 14% failed to show any search at all.

Most infants explored little or not at all in Episode 6. Only 44% showed exploratory locomotion, and only 21% showed as much as they had in Episode 2. Although 62% engaged in exploratory manipulation at least briefly, only 27% maintained at least the level they had shown in Episode 2. At least some visual exploration was shown by most babies, but 24% were too acutely distressed to explore even visually. In all only 4% seemed undisturbed by the mother’s absence, maintaining exploration at preseparation levels and neither crying nor going to the door.

It is a safe assumption that these various manifestations of disturbance were activated by the mother’s departure and continuing absence. That there was more disturbance in Episode 6 than in Episode 4 is perhaps attributable in part to the fact that the baby was left alone in Episode 6 rather than in the company of the stranger; but it is probably chiefly due to the cumulative effect of a second separation. The relative weights of these two factors cannot be ascertained, however, because they are confounded. On the other hand, it seems clear in retrospect that most of the babies who were distressed in Episode 4 were primarily protesting separation rather than manifesting fear of the stranger. Only one baby who cried in Episode 4 failed to cry in Episode 6.

Episode 7

The stranger’s return in Episode 7 did little to reassure those babies who were distressed in Episode 6. This fact lends support to the interpretation that it was specifically the mother’s absence rather than being alone that occasioned the distress in most instances. Of the 61 babies who were crying at the end of Episode 6, 35 continued to cry, and 13 stopped briefly as the stranger entered and then renewed their crying. Only 15 stopped crying altogether. Of the other 45 infants who were not crying at the end of Episode 6, four began to cry when they saw the stranger, as if disappointed that it was not the mother who entered. In only one instance did fear of the stranger seem to activate the cry, for this baby had cried in Episode 4 but not in Episode 6, and cried again when the stranger entered in Episode 7. In all, 71% of the sample cried at some time in Episode 7, a slight decrease from the 78% who cried in Episode 6.

Sixty-one babies were picked up by the stranger—twice as many as those picked up in Episode 4. Slightly more of these (23%) showed a totally positive response to the pick-up than did those picked up in Episode 4 (17%), and 57% showed a mixed response, in contrast to the 47% who did so in Episode 4. The incidence of totally negative responses was only 20%, in contrast with 37% in Episode 4. These findings suggest that under conditions of increased stress due to the second separation from the mother, infants tended not totally to reject contact, even with a strange person, but may derive some consolation from it even though they may be ambivalent.

Of the 61 infants picked up by the stranger, 35 increased their crying or at least cried at the same level as previously. Eight exhibited stiffness or rigidity while in the stranger’s arms, and four kicked at the stranger while she was picking them up. Another 11 squirmed or arched back uncomfortably in the stranger’s arms, signaling a desire to be put down. The percentage incidence of these resistant behaviors did not change significantly from that of Episode 4.

Of the 61 infants picked up by the stranger, 32 were later put down again. Of these, 11 protested the put-down—proportionately more than in Episode 4. About the same proportion of babies (11%) avoided the stranger’s offer of a pick-up as in Episode 4. Of the 61 infants picked up, 22 reached or leaned in anticipation.

The stranger was somewhat less likely to offer a toy to a baby in Episode 7 than in Episode 4. She did so in 74% of the cases. Angry, resistant behaviors in response to these offers were more frequent, however. Of the 78 babies offered a toy, 16 actually pushed it away, and 33 refused the play offer altogether. On the other hand, 22 accepted the offer immediately, and 23 more did so after some delay.

Smiling at the stranger across a distance was less frequent than it had been in Episode 4, and very much less frequent than in Episode 3. Thirty-three percent smiled at the stranger. On the other hand, 25% vocalized to her—about the same number who had done so in Episode 4. Avoidance of the stranger was more frequent than in Episode 4; 25% turned or looked away from her.

The stranger’s presence reduced the frequency of the more active forms of search. During the whole episode, only 17% approached the door, and only 6% approached the mother’s chair. Forty-six percent showed no search behavior whatsoever.

Even though fewer babies showed active search in this episode than in Episode 6, this does not imply that they turned from a preoccupation with their mothers’ whereabouts to a renewal of exploratory activity. Indeed the percentages of infants engaging even minimally in exploration remained about the same as in Episode 6.

In summary, Episode 7 was very much a continuation of Episode 6 for nearly all babies, and for most of them it was still dominated by their response to separation from the mother. Some were comforted by the stranger, but the distress of very few was truly alleviated. However, only a very few were more distressed in the stranger’s presence than they had been when alone.

Episode 8

In this second reunion episode, more infants exhibited heightened attachment behavior than in the first reunion, even though some were too distressed to take as active a role in seeking contact with the mother as they had in Episode 5.

During the first 15 seconds following the mother’s entrance, 81% gave some kind of greeting, positive or negative. The most common greeting was a cry or an increase in the intensity of crying (50%). This percentage is substantially higher than in Episode 5. Seventeen percent cried without mingling this with more active or more positive greeting behavior. Nevertheless 25% made a full approach, and another 6% a partial approach. Signaling a desire for contact by reaching or leaning was shown by 26%. More babies (78%) achieved contact within the first 15 seconds than had done so in Episode 5 (33%), either by themselves or with the mother’s cooperation. Even in this second reunion episode, however, some babies greeted their mothers across a distance without an obvious signal for contact; 6% merely smiled in greeting, and 4% merely vocalized. A substantial minority (19%) did not greet their mothers at all. Fifteen percent merely looked at her without a greeting, and 4% totally ignored her entrance. In addition, 23% turned away or looked away from the mother after looking at or even greeting her, and one baby walked away from her.

During the whole episode, 47% of the babies exhibited some avoidance of the mother. Thirty percent either turned away or looked away from her, and another 15% ignored her, although only 8% ignored her for any substantial period of time (over a minute).

The instructions to the mother implied that she was to pick the baby up. Seventy-three percent did so at the beginning of the episode, and 84% did so at some time during it. Only 20% of the mothers went to their chairs immediately, in contrast with Episode 5 when 41% did so. At the beginning of Episode 8, 53% of the babies were crying, but most of them stopped with little delay, the majority immediately after being picked up. Only 18% of the crying babies stopped crying without physical contact, even after some delay. Latency to stop crying was 9 seconds with physical contact and 11 seconds without.

Although only 25% of the sample approached the mother within the first 15 seconds, 46% did so at some time during the episode. Of the 94 who were held by their mothers, 44 clung actively, and 19 sank in against the mother’s body—about the same proportion as in Episode 5, but involving a greater number of babies because twice as many were picked up.

Of the 94 who were held, 10 were not consoled and either increased the level of their crying or fussed intermittently during contact. Some babies also showed resistance to being held; five kicked at the mother, 18 squirmed to get down, three pushed away, and another four leaned away from her during the pick-up. Three were totally unresponsive to the contact.

Mothers were less likely to attempt to put their babies down in this episode than in Episode 5—perhaps because they sensed the baby would protest, or perhaps because they had not been instructed to reinvolve the baby in play with the toys. In all, 78 mothers (83% of those who had picked their babies up) attempted to put the baby down. Of these babies, 32 (41%) cried in protest at being put down, and 11 (14%) actively resisted release from the mother. Although the percentages exhibiting these behaviors are lower than in Episode 5, it must be remembered that more mothers held their babies and tended to hold them longer. Of those who were picked up, only 28% were held for less than 30 seconds (as contrasted to 74% in Episode 5) and 24% were in contact for over 120 seconds (as opposed to 7% in Episode 5).

About the same number of mothers (78) attempted to interest babies in toys, whether holding the baby or not, as had in episode 5 (76). Nine of the babies who were offered a toy dropped it, four rejected it actively by batting it away or throwing it down, and five turned away from the mother’s toy. Only 82% of the sample manipulated toys even briefly in this episode, in contrast to 98% in Episode 5.

Hence Episode 8, even more than Episode 5, was dominated by baby’s response to his mother upon her return after a brief absence, with the majority of these 1-year-olds seeking to achieve and maintain close contact with her.


1 The percentages of infants who exhibited locomotor, manipulative, and visual exploration, and also crying, in each episode are shown in Appendix VI, Tables 30 and 31.

2 Bretherton and Ainsworth (1974) used the term “affiliative” to refer to friendly or sociable behavior directed toward the stranger. Because this term has been used by others to refer to behavior directed by offspring to parent—as indeed its Latin root would suggest—we now prefer to use the terms “sociable” or “friendly.”