Mary Ainsworth was an American Canadian psychologist, best known for her contribution in psychology in early child development. Her work is mainly focused on the Strange Situation, and the attachment theory. With early age inspiration, Ainsworth, though long terms of study, contributed a research that strongly influenced the view and the perspective of treatments of children and the relationship between the caregiver and the child.
Born in Ohio, Ainsworth was inspired to be a psychologist as she flipped over the last page of William McDouwell’s book Character and the Conduct of Life. Her lifelong interest in psychology leads her into psychology honors in University of Toronto, and further into her master, and PhD. Ainsworth spent several years of her life teaching in University of Toronto teaching, and later joined the army. In 1960s, with her movement to Virginia, Ainsworth taught in University of Virginia.
With her strong interest in psychology, Ainsworth studied and contributed lots to the mother infant attraction. Her famous work, Strange Situation explains and reveals the relationship between the parents and the children. In the study, the infant is placed in an experimental room with toys.Parents are allowed to enter at first and leave after a little chat with the stranger. The stranger comes in and chat with the parent, and is leaved alone with the child after a while. By several times of repetitions of greeting with the strangers and parents enter in and our the room, we can group and diagnosis the relationship of the parent and the infant. This experiment is significant to child psychology and is an early pioneer of the children behavior studies.
Not only did Ainsworth created and modified the Strange Situation, but Ainsworth did great and pioneering research in fields of attachment. With the Strange Situation, Ainsworth was able to group the parents and childrens’ relationships into three groups. Ainsworth’s conclusion of attachment was rather simple: there are three types of attachments, secure, anxious-avoidant and anxious-resistant. Her finding solves and opens doors to countless other fields.
Although Ainsworth’s research seems minute compare to many others, her work in psychology was incredible useful and being re-recognized by the little attachment among the modern parents and children.