A cross-cultural evaluation of attachment research1

Abraham Sagi, Kathleen S. Lewkowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This chapter deals primarily with issues related to the validity of the Strange Situation procedure in cross-cultural research. Specifically, we show that the relative proportion of infants classified as secure and insecure is not the same, and that the ratio between the A (avoidant) and C (resistant) groups often varies as well. Also, inconsistencies seem to characterize samples within the same culture. Moreover, the composition of the various subgroups within the secure categories is not the same across cultures. A number of alternative explanations are proposed to account for such inconsistencies. First, it is proposed that the psychological meaning of the Strange Situation may differ for infants and adults in various countries. Second, there are some indications, albeit not systematically documented, that the Strange Situation procedure has not been implemented in a similar way in the different countries. Third, issues of classification are shown to be of major relevance. The issues discussed above have implications for research concerned with the antecedents and consequences of Strange Situation behavior. Moreover, the concept of maternal sensitivity, which is so central to antecedent research, has not been sufficiently defined and clarified. These problems and difficulties raise a number of serious questions concerning the nature of the conclusions that can be reached on the basis of the research to date. We have at best reached a stage at which we can formulate better and more refined hypotheses, and develop new measures which will improve our utilization of existing procedures. It follows that there is an immediate need for greater coordination in the planning and conduct of research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-459
Number of pages33
JournalAdvances in Psychology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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