Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Bree Akesson

Advisor Role



This paper aims to review the cross-cultural application of attachment theory as a western model of thought and practice. That is, this research aimed to recognize and question how embedded attachment theory has become in programming and education within North American academic and practical arenas. In applying the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) to a limited sample of Eritrean dyads, important considerations and questions arose regarding the cross-cultural application of this protocol. The aims of this research shifted toward further exploring these considerations and questions, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the new research aim emphasized how to inform future cross-cultural research on attachment theory about the trespasses and intersections of complex truths – for both the researcher and the researched. Using an autoethnographic methodology, I articulate the strange journey in completing this specific research study, and generated themes and areas applicable to attachment research, and more broadly, to research involving cross-cultural groups. I explore my lived experiences in research as a child immigrant, a student, a researcher, a clinician, a citizen, an outsider, a stranger, a volunteer, and a social worker. My findings suggest that the stranger identity, as part of the SSP protocol, shifts vastly when applied cross-culturally, and that this identity expands beyond the protocol to the relationship of researcher-researched. In recognizing this shift, this paper demands a heightened ethical responsibility for the attachment researcher and practitioner in engaging with culturally diverse groups. Without such reflexivity in navigating the complexities of attachment, risk of misinterpretation and misuse in policy and practice is unavoidable.

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