Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter

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Mary D. Salter Ainsworth was born December 1, 1913 in Glendale, OH. Her family later moved to Canada. At the age of 16, Ainsworth entered the University of Toronto. She earned a BA in 1935 and a PhD in 1939. She went on to teach at the University of Toronto until 1942. During WWII, Ainsworth was part of the Canadian Women's Army Corp.

After her marriage in 1950, she moved to England where she studied mother-child relationships at the Tavistock Clinic with John Bowlby. In 1954, she moved to Uganda for 1 year to research the mother-child dyad within that social context. In 1955, Ainsworth took a position at Johns Hopkins University. In 1975, Ainsworth moved to the University of Virginia, retiring in 1984, but continued to lecture, research, and publish.

Ainsworth is best-known as the developer of attachment theory. She also developed a well-known methodology to study attachment: the Strange Situation, in which an infant is observed in free play with the mother present and absent.

Ainsworth received many honors during her long career, which include the American Psychological Association's G. Stanley Hall Award (1984); its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1989); and the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievements (1998).

Ainsworth died on March 21, 1999.

From the guide to the Mary Ainsworth papers, 1956-1983, (Center for the History of Psychology)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter. The Baltimore longitudinal study of attachment. Harvard University, Murray Research Center
creatorOf Mary Ainsworth papers, 1956-1983 Center for the History of Psychology
creatorOf Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter. Mary Ainsworth papers, 1955-1983. University of Akron, Bierce Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Child development
Child psychology
Developmental psychology
History of psychology
Imprinting (Psychology)
Infant Behavior
Infant psychology
Maternal deprivation
Mother and child
Psychological tests
Security (Psychology) in children


Birth 1913-12-01

Death 1999-03-21





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