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In search of security: The latent structure of the Adult Attachment Interview revisited

  • Katherine C. Haydon (a1), Glenn I. Roisman (a1) and Keith B. Burt (a2)

Building on Roisman, Fraley, and Belsky, who produced evidence for two modestly correlated dimensions (i.e., dismissing and preoccupied states of mind) underlying individual differences in attachment as assessed by the Adult Attachment Interview using the Main and Goldwyn classification system, this report replicates and extends relevant evidence in a large sample of adults (N = 842) who completed the Adult Attachment Interview coded using Kobak's Adult Attachment Interview Q-Sort. Principal components analysis of item-level Q-Sort data yielded two state of mind (dismissing vs. free to evaluate and preoccupied vs. not) and two inferred experience (maternal and paternal) components that were associated with two domains of theoretical significance to attachment theory: interpersonal functioning in a romantic context and symptoms of psychopathology. Results revealed distinctive behavioral correlates of dismissing versus preoccupied states of mind and emphasize the differential predictive significance for developmental adaptation of attachment states of mind versus adults' recollections of their early experiences. Implications for adult attachment methodology and theory are discussed.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Katherine C. Haydon or Glenn I. Roisman, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820; E-mail: or
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