SCIENCE; also we wear white lab-coats and we intone "The experiment requires that you continue" if the mother or father looks to be having second thoughts.
The system for scoring behaviours in the SS is grounded in ethology, and applies only to small helpless bald apes... the theory behind it is that attachment patterns are strategies for maximising the likelihood of the small helpless bald ape growing into a large, less helpless but equally annoying adult bald ape. The classification into Anxious-Avoidant, Secure, or Anxious-Resistant styles of infant attachment may or may not predict how the subjects react in later life, when talking-heads on the Televish tell them that dutiful citizens should be fearful, should accept minor restrictions of liberty, and should inform on their neighbours; I could not possibly comment.
The study is a response to Edwards et al. (2007), "Experimental evaluation of attachment behaviors in owned cats", which study was itself inspired by 1998 work on dogs. Mills was promoting it back in 2013 but it takes a while to
Maloney et al. has shown that the optimal situations for inducing controlled levels of anxiety and stress in cats are in fact photographs of bearded men. The authors did not cite any of this body of work so frankly I am surprised that the PLoS reviewers accepted the manuscript. The omission will certainly cost them their chance of winning an Ignobel.
No stress induction
among infant chickens
among infant chickens
There are simpler tests for this.
This part warrants special applause:
Two cat subjects (1 male neutered, 6 years old, 1 female neutered 2 years old) hid during an entire experimental testing period and were therefore removed from the data analysis.
------------------------------------------"Attachment theory" should not be confused with the vogue for "attachment parenting", in which fluffy psychobabblers shift the ansxiety and inadquacy to parents and go on about 'attachment' as if it is a commodity that dutiful mothers should buy in bulk off the shelf along with baby monitors and cognitive-stimulation music compilations. The fact that people are out there using 'parent' as a verb is yet another symptom of cultural desuetude.