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Security of infant-mother,

Applying Strange Situation procedures and behavioural categories is ethnocentric – Cross-cultural research using the Strange Situation judges and categorises infant behaviour according to behavioural categories that were developed following observations of middle-class American infants. This means that when researchers interpret non-American infant behaviour, it is being judged against an American standard. Eg. an infant exploring the playroom by themselves would be classed as avoidant based on American standards but is valued as reflecting independence in Germany

Takahashi (1990)

Takahashi (1990) replicated the Strange Situation with 60 middle class Japanese infants & mothers using the same standardised procedure and behavioural categories. Takahashi’s observation revealed distinct cultural differences in how the infants responded to the 8 stages of the procedure. The findings were as follows:

0% insecure-avoidant. Infants became severely distressed in the “infant alone step”; this situation was quite unnatural and broke cultural norms for the infants

32% insecure-resistant

68% secure

90% of infant-alone steps had to be stopped due to excessive infant anxiety.

Evaluation of Takahashi

A weakness of the research is that it could be seen as unethical – It could be argued that Takahashi’s research was unethical as the harm that the procedure caused exceeded what infants would be exposed to in their day-to-day lives meaning that it exceeded undue risk. As Japanese infants are rarely separated from their primary caregivers, the infant-alone step induced stress that they would not normally encounter and so the level of harm can be considered unjustifiable. Despite this being the case, the researchers did stop infant-alone steps prematurely in an attempt to protect infants from further harm.

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