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.
- Adult Attachment Interview
- Childhood experiences with caregivers
- Individual differences
- Principal components analysis