A taxometric study of the Adult Attachment Interview.

Glenn I. Roisman, R. Chris Fraley, Jay Belsky

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153 Scopus citations


This study is the first to examine the latent structure of individual differences reflected in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; C. George, N. Kaplan, & M. Main, 1985), a commonly used and well-validated measure designed to assess an adult's current state of mind regarding childhood experiences with caregivers. P. E. Meehl's (1995) taxometric methods (i.e., MAXCOV-HITMAX) were applied to data from 504 AAIs. Analyses revealed that the variation underlying secure versus dismissing states of mind was more consistent with a dimensional than a taxonic model. (Taxometric analyses of preoccupation were indeterminate.) In addition, variation in secure adults' (n = 278) reports about their early experiences revealed little evidence for qualitative groups of earned- and continuous-secures. Rather, the inferred life experiences of secure adults appeared to be distributed continuously. Findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications regarding the phenomenon of earned-security specifically and variation underlying secure and insecure states of mind more generally. The consequences of these analyses for AAI reliability training and coding are also explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-686
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Adult Attachment Interview
  • Childhood experiences with caregivers
  • Individual differences
  • Principal components analysis
  • Taxometrics


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