Methodology in Developmental and Clinical Child Psychology: Methods in Assessment of Attachment



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

The course provides an overview of attachment assessment methods used in childhood. In particular, students will familiarize themselves with patterns of attachment-relevant infant behavior and childhood mental representations. Methods identifying these patterns in infancy (Strange Situation Procedure, SSP) and in childhood (Manchester Child Attachment Story Tasks, MCAST) are discussed in detail.

The Strange Situation Procedure is the most succesful and widely used experimental paradigm for assessing infant attachment. Evaluation of videorecorded sessions identifies four main, which are underlied by different caring environments. The attachment classifications are to some extent predictive of later social development.

In childhood, attachment assessment methodology is more heterogeneous. For the age range of 5-8 years one of the validated procedures is the Manchester Child Attachment Story Tasks (MCAST), which asks subject children to complete attachment-relevant story stems by enacting the stories using doll figures. In the course of evaluation, patterns analogous with infant attachment patterns are identified on the bases of content of the completed stories and children’s presentation behavior. MCAST can be used in both normal and clinical populations.

  • Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the Strange Situation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. 391 p.
  • Green, J. M., Stanley, C., Smith, V., & Goldwyn, R. (2000). A new method of evaluating attachment representations in young school-age children: The Manchester Attachment Story Task. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 48−70.
  • Green J. M., Goldwyn, R. (2002). Attachment disorganisation and psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 835−846.
  • Main, M., & Solomon, J. (1990). Procedures for identifying infants as disorganized/disoriented during the Ainsworth Strange Situation. In M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 121-160.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Tóth, Gervai: (2005) A kötődés minőségének mérése csecsemő és óvodás korban. Alkalmazott Pszichológia, , VII/4, p. 14-26.