Are Infant Attachment Patterns Continuously or Categorically Distributed? A Taxometric Analysis of Strange Situation Behavior

R. Chris Fraley, Susan J. Spieker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Contemporary attachment research is based on the assumption that at least three types of infant attachment patterns exist: secure, avoidant, and resistant. It is not known, however, whether individual differences in attachment organization are more consistent with a continuous or a categorical model. The authors addressed this issue by applying P. E. Meehl's (1973, 1992) taxometric techniques for distinguishing latent types (i.e., classes, natural kinds) from latent continua (i.e., dimensions) to Strange Situation data on 1,139 fifteen-month-old children from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. The results indicate that variation in attachment patterns is largely continuous, not categorical. The discussion focuses on the implications of dimensional models of individual differences for attachment theory and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-404
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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