Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Ainsworth, Mary

  • Mary A. FisherEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_992


Ainsworth, Mary


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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  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1967). Infancy in Uganda: Infant care and the growth of love. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1969). Object relations, dependency, and attachment: A theoretical review of infant-mother relationship. Child Development, 40, 969–1025.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
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  4. Ainsworth, M. D. S., & Wittig, B. A. (1969). Attachment and the exploratory behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 113–136). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  5. 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
  6. Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28, 759–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Klopfer, B., Ainsworth, M. D., & Klopfer, W. F. (1954). Developments in the Rorschach Technique, vol. 1: Technique and theory. Yonkers-on-Hudson: World Book Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mary Fisher Psychotherapy, PLLCSalt Lake CityUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA