The latent structure of the adult attachment interview: Large sample evidence from the collaboration on attachment transmission synthesis

Lee Raby K, Verhage ML, Pasco Fearon RM, Chris Fraley R, Roisman GI, van IJzendoorn MH, Schuengel C, Madigan S, Oosterman M, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, Bernier A, Ensink K, Hautamäki A, Mangelsdorf S, Priddis LE, Wong MS, Aviezer O, Behrens KY, Brisch KH, Cassibba R, Cassidy J, Coppola G, Costantini A, Dozier M, Duschinsky R, Ierardi E, Finger B, de Millan SG, Harder S, Hazen NL, Jin MM, Myung S, Jongenelen I, Leerkes EM, Lionetti F, Lyons-Ruth K, McMahon C, Meins E, Pace CS, Pederson DR, Crugnola CR, Sagi-Schwartz A, Schoppe-Sullivan SJ, Speranza AM, Steele H, Tarabulsy GM, Væver MS, Ward MJ, Arnott B, Bailey H, Behringer J, Brice PJ, Castoro G, Costantino E, Cyr C, George C, Gloger-Tippelt G, Howes C, Jacobsen H, Jacobvitz D, Juffer F, Kazui M, Køppe S, Millán S, Murray L, Simonelli A, Solomon J, Steele M, Teti DM, Monique van Londen-Barentsen W (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


DOI: 10.1017/S0954579420000978


The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is a widely used measure in developmental science that assesses adults' current states of mind regarding early attachment-related experiences with their primary caregivers. The standard system for coding the AAI recommends classifying individuals categorically as having an autonomous, dismissing, preoccupied, or unresolved attachment state of mind. However, previous factor and taxometric analyses suggest that: (a) adults' attachment states of mind are captured by two weakly correlated factors reflecting adults' dismissing and preoccupied states of mind and (b) individual differences on these factors are continuously rather than categorically distributed. The current study revisited these suggestions about the latent structure of AAI scales by leveraging individual participant data from 40 studies (N = 3,218), with a particular focus on the controversial observation from prior factor analytic work that indicators of preoccupied states of mind and indicators of unresolved states of mind about loss and trauma loaded on a common factor. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that: (a) a 2-factor model with weakly correlated dismissing and preoccupied factors and (b) a 3-factor model that further distinguished unresolved from preoccupied states of mind were both compatible with the data. The preoccupied and unresolved factors in the 3-factor model were highly correlated. Taxometric analyses suggested that individual differences in dismissing, preoccupied, and unresolved states of mind were more consistent with a continuous than a categorical model. The importance of additional tests of predictive validity of the various models is emphasized.

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Involved external institutions

Mills College US United States (USA) (US) Universitätsklinikum Ulm DE Germany (DE) Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) / University Amsterdam NL Netherlands (NL) Università degli studi "La Sapienza" IT Italy (IT) University College London (UCL) GB United Kingdom (GB) Université Laval (UL) CA Canada (CA) University of North Carolina at Greensboro US United States (USA) (US) University of Bari Aldo Moro / Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro IT Italy (IT) Universidade Lusófona do Porto PT Portugal (PT) SUNY Polytechnic Institute US United States (USA) (US) Klinikum der Universität München DE Germany (DE) Montana State University Billings US United States (USA) (US) University of Calgary CA Canada (CA) The New School US United States (USA) (US) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign US United States (USA) (US) Weill Cornell Medicine US United States (USA) (US) University of Reading GB United Kingdom (GB) Leiden University NL Netherlands (NL) Ibaraki University / 茨城大学 JP Japan (JP) Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål / Oslo universitetssykehus, Ullevål NO Norway (NO) Gallaudet University US United States (USA) (US) Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) CA Canada (CA) Universiteit Utrecht (UU) / Utrecht University NL Netherlands (NL) University of Padua / Universita degli Studi di Padova IT Italy (IT) University of Genova / Università degli Studi di Genova IT Italy (IT) University of Maryland US United States (USA) (US) University of Milano-Bicocca / Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, UNIMIB IT Italy (IT) Université de Montréal CA Canada (CA) University of Copenhagen DK Denmark (DK) Veterans Affairs Healthcare System Boston and Harvard Medical School US United States (USA) (US) Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) US United States (USA) (US) University of Cambridge GB United Kingdom (GB) Western University CA Canada (CA) Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) / Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam NL Netherlands (NL) University of Utah US United States (USA) (US) University of Delaware (UDEL) US United States (USA) (US) University of Texas at Austin US United States (USA) (US) University of Haifa / אוניברסיטת חיפה IL Israel (IL) University of Guelph (U of G) CA Canada (CA) Helsingin yliopisto / University of Helsinki FI Finland (FI) University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) US United States (USA) (US) Queen Mary University of London GB United Kingdom (GB) Ohio State University US United States (USA) (US) University of Minnesota (UMN) US United States (USA) (US) University of York GB United Kingdom (GB) Stevenson University US United States (USA) (US) University of Wisconsin - Madison US United States (USA) (US) Edith Cowan University AU Australia (AU) Macquarie University AU Australia (AU) Newcastle University GB United Kingdom (GB)

How to cite


Lee Raby, K., Verhage, M.L., Pasco Fearon, R.M., Chris Fraley, R., Roisman, G.I., van IJzendoorn, M.H.,... Monique van Londen-Barentsen, W. (2020). The latent structure of the adult attachment interview: Large sample evidence from the collaboration on attachment transmission synthesis. Development and Psychopathology.


Lee Raby, K., et al. "The latent structure of the adult attachment interview: Large sample evidence from the collaboration on attachment transmission synthesis." Development and Psychopathology (2020).

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