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Psychology and Mental Health

Chicago, USA
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Adult attachment patterns

Author(s): Fraley RC, Waller NG


The goal of the present chapter is to determine whether adult attachment patterns are more indicative of latent types or latent dimensions. To achieve this goal, we analyze attachment data from a large sample (n = 639) of young adults using several taxometric procedures ("mean above minus below a cut" and maximum covariance-hitmax procedure) that were developed by P. E. Meehl and his colleagues. In doing so, the authors hope to resolve the types vs dimensions debate in adult attachment research and provide recommendations for both the conceptualization and measurement of adult attachment.
The authors begin the chapter by reviewing the status of typological approaches in attachment research and in psychological research more broadly. Next, the authors review procedures that have traditionally been used to validate categorical models in the social sciences and discuss limitations of these approaches for corroborating typological or dimensional models. The authors describe taxometric techniques for distinguishing latent types from latent continua. The authors review arguments for the taxonic and dimensional models of attachment security. The authors apply their taxometric procedures to a large sample of adult attachment data to determine which approach is best supported by the data. Finally, the authors discuss the implications of their findings for advancing knowledge on adult attachment phenomena.

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