The emotional integration of childhood experience: Physiological, facial expressive, and self-reported emotional response during the adult attachment interview

Glenn I. Roisman, Jeanne L. Tsai, Kuan Hiong Sylvia Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attachment researchers claim that individual differences in how adults talk about their early memories reflect qualitatively distinct organizations of emotion regarding childhood experiences with caregivers. Testing this assumption, the present study examined the relationship between attachment dimensions and physiological, facial expressive, as well as self-reported emotional responses during the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Consistent with theoretical predictions, more prototypically secure adults behaviorally expressed and reported experiencing emotion consistent with the valence of the childhood events they described. Insecure adults also showed distinctive and theoretically anticipated forms of emotional response: Dismissing participants evidenced increased electrodermal activity during the interview, a sign of emotional suppression, whereas preoccupied adults showed reliable discrepancies between the valence of their inferred childhood experiences and their facial expressive as well as reported emotion during the AAI. Results substantiate a case that the AAI reflects individual differences in emotion regulation that conceptually parallel observations of attachment relationships in infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-789
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

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