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Adult attachment: What are the underlying dimensions? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice 75: 77-91

Author(s): Stein H, Koontz D, Fonagy P, Allen JG, Fultz J, Brethour JR, Allen D, Evans RB

Abstract

Using a community sample of 115 young adults, this study applied a range of statistical techniques to five measures of adult attachment to gain a better understanding of what they assess. First, we determined comparability of measures, using both categorical and dimensional approaches to model the association. Agreement among classifications was modest. Next, we examined the relation of attachment classifications and attachment measure subscale scores to criterion variables (i.e. dyadic adjustment, interpersonal sensitivity and severity of psychiatric symptoms). Classification predicted severity of psychological symptoms better than it predicted other measures of adjustment. Finally, using a principal components analysis, we mapped the relationship among underlying constructs, the subscales of the five measures and three criterion measures of psychological adjustment. We discuss our findings from the perspective of underlying constructs of attachment insecurity and strategy for coping with insecurity in relationships, noting implications for further research.

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