Mary Dinsmore Salter Ainsworth was a developmental psychologist whose vanguard empirical methodology and theoretical formulations validated the basic tenets of attachment theory while contributing to the theory itself. Her conscientious, nurturing approach shaped numerous students and colleagues whose work forms much of the substance of contemporary developmental psychology.
Ainsworth was born in 1913 in Ohio, to Mary and Charles Salter. The family moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1918 when Charles was transferred and the family adopted Canadian citizenship. Academic achievement was prized in the Ainsworth family, and Mary was precocious; she learned to read at three. At 16, Ainsworth began honor psychology courses at the University of Toronto. Despite her father’s initial suggestion that she become a stenographer before she married, Ainsworth earned a doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of Toronto in 1939 (Ainsworth 1983).
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- Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
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