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Bowlby was a theoretician, who collected many retrospective data about the possible detrimental effects on the child of a suboptimal mother‐child relationship but he had no instruments to do prospective research. The bulk of his conclusions were based on the effects of gross separations from the mother and the finer details of inadequate mother‐child relationships could only be unearthed in time‐consuming clinical research. It was here that Ainsworth's SSP came as a godsend. The SSP is a laboratory‐based procedure (in this case a standardized simulation of a stressful situation) intended to reveal patterns of caregiver‐child attachment. It quickly gained popularity among attachment researchers and is regarded to be a reliable instrument with good predictive validity (Solomon & George, 2008). The SSP is widely used these days and it has even been adapted to assess the bond between dogs and humans (Rehn, McGowan, & Keeling, 2013). Although numerous articles and chapters have been written about the SSP, little is known of its origin and history. Story has it that the SSP was thought up by Ainsworth and her assistant, Barbara Wittig, in about 20 minutes (Inge Bretherton, personal communication, March 2, 2013). It may well have been. We will see that it did not, however, come out of thin air. Ainsworth's extensive experience in researching security and development of attachment, combined with a social background of increasing attention for mother‐child relationships and their effect on child development, paved the way for the construction of the SSP. The wish to intervene in the social environment of the problematic child created the need for a tool to measure the quality of the mother‐child relationship and facilitated the quick and broad acceptance of the SSP. Description of the SSP According to attachment theory virtually all children become attached, but the quality of their attachment relationship differs and insecure attachment may result in developmental problems. The SSP, by prompting attachment behavior in the child, allows for classification of attachment security. The SSP as it is used today is basically the same as it was when Ainsworth first used it in her Baltimore Study (Ainsworth & Wittig, 1969; Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1971) and consists of eight episodes. In episodes 1–3, the child (in the company of the caregiver) is first confronted with a strange environment (a play room) and then with a stranger (an unknown research assistant). During the fourth episode, the caregiver leaves the room and the infant is left with the stranger. The caregiver returns during the fifth episode and the stranger leaves. The caregiver then leaves again (episode 6), which means the infant is alone in the room. The stranger returns (episode 7), and eventually the caregiver also returns (episode 8). In order to avoid effects of different parental behavior during the SSP as much as possible, the caregiver is asked to respond to the child only when necessary and not to initiate any interaction. Originally, the SSP was observed through a one‐way window and observations were dictated simultaneously by at least two observers. Nowadays, the behavior of the child is captured on film and coded afterwards. The three components of the SSP (the strange environment, the stranger, and the separations from the caregiver) make it stressful for children and prompt attachment behavior. Special attention is paid to the episodes in which the caregiver is reunited with the child after the brief separations. During these episodes (5 and 8) it is estimated how much the child trusts the caregiver by looking at the child's behavior and at how long it takes before the balance between exploration of the environment and focus on the parent or caregiver has been restored. The way in which the child approaches the caregiver at the reunion and seeks contact, or tries to avoid contact, is angry, or acts in a disorganized way, is decisive for the attachment classification. Children's attachment to their mother can be classified as secure (B), insecure avoidant (A), insecure ambivalent (C), or disorganized (D). Strong claims regarding attachment's continuity over time, its impact on later development, and claims regarding maternal sensitivity as the most important precursor of strange situation behavior have not been unanimously supported by the scientific literature of the last 40 years, however (cf. Lamb et al., 1984; Vicedo, 2013; Groh et al., 2014). Ainsworth herself later expressed regret at the fact that the SSP had ended up as a stand‐alone instrument, often being used as a shortcut method, instead of being used in combination with home observations (Ainsworth & Marvin, 1995). Nevertheless, regardless of its possible limitations, attachment researchers value the SSP as an important instrument and have embraced it as a prime measure of attachment. In addition, many of the adult attachment researchers that started to design their own instruments in the 1980s used the SSP as a model to work from (Van Rosmalen, Van IJzendoorn, & Van der Veer, 2014). If we want to explore the historical roots of this widely used instrument we need to go back a century. Prehistory of the SSP Against the backdrop of increasing interest in the mental health of children in the early twentieth century, a considerable amount of research was being done regarding fear in children. Researchers tried to find out what caused children to be afraid and studied their reactions or tried to find methods to overcome these fears (Jersild & Holmes, 1935). Hagman (1932), for instance, studied the overt behavior of children taken into a room, left alone, and subjected to a phonographic recording of artificial thunder as a possible fear stimulus. The psychoanalytic focus on separation anxiety caused interest in the influence of an unknown environment on the child's behavior and/or the effects of separation from the mother. Nancy Bayley (1932) reported on an observation of 61 infants that underwent a range of tests, during some of which it was necessary to be briefly separated from the mother. Bayley put their crying down to, among other things, the “strangeness of place and persons” (p. 316). The first time we see a detailed description of the reactions of children specifically to a strange person in a strange room, and the behavioral patterns in which the fear is manifested, is in an unpublished study conducted in the early 30s called “The behavior of the child in strange fields” by F. Wiehe, a student of Kurt Lewin (Lewin, 1935). Lewin, famous for, among other things, his force field analysis that looks at the factors that influence a situation, stated in 1933 that “the presence or absence of the mother changes the total structure of the psychological environment very essentially, especially the child's feeling of security or insecurity” (Lewin, as cited in Bretherton & Munholland, 1999, p. 97). Wiehe studied children's behavior toward a stranger as they were taken into a strange room, sometimes accompanied by their mother, sometimes alone, or a strange person was brought into the child's home. He then observed the actions of the child toward the stranger by noting down the presence or absence of 15 possible actions (listen to, look at, turn bodily toward, smile at, speak to, address to, express wishes, give or throw something, make bodily contact, stay nearby, ask personal questions, demonstrate ability, show off, make demands, affective reactions) at six different degrees of “strength of the social field.” This degree of strength was a function of the spatial distance to the stranger, the duration of his presence, and his conduct. Wiehe found the strongest pressure resulting in the child becoming motionless, and a weaker degree of pressure causing the child to cry or to run away or toward his mother. The less pressure on the child, the more natural free behavior was shown. Wiehe's study was the first that did not just note that strangeness caused fear in the child, but also paid attention to how this fear was expressed in the child's exploratory behavior. Being a student of Lewin, he analyzed the child's behavior in topological terms (i.e., in terms of forces and valences present in a specific situation or “field”), just like Arsenian, another student of Lewin, would do several years later. In the early 40s, Prichard and Ojemann (1941) noted that “insecurity” was frequently listed among the possible causes of behavioral problems and called for clarification of the terms “security” and “insecurity,” and for a uniform way to measure them: Careful analysis of the literature reveals that there is little agreement as to the meaning of these terms and that methods of identification and measurement of insecurity are not well developed. […] It would be most helpful if we could develop more precise methods of classifying children with respect to the strength or frequency with which this desire motivates their behavior. We need methods by which we can discriminate between the relatively secure and the relatively insecure children. (Prichard & Ojemann, 1941, p. 114) By comparing two groups of preschool children aged 2–5, one group labeled “secure” and one labeled “insecure” by their respective teachers, Prichard and Ojemann developed a security rating scale based on the behavior of children in a preschool environment.