Matches Made With Information: Fitting Measurement Models to Adult Attachment Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many self-report inventories in social/personality psychology are developed and scored using dominance-based assumptions. Specifically, they assume that the relationship between item endorsement and the latent trait is monotonically increasing; thus, individuals with high standings on the trait would be likely to endorse all items. It is possible, however, that the item response process for these inventories follows an ideal point process in which respondents only endorse items that best describe them, leading to nonmonotonic relations between item responses and latent traits. This research examined whether the item response process underlying the Experiences in Close Relationships–Revised—a commonly used self-report measure of adult attachment styles—is best understood as a dominance or ideal point process. Study 1 showed that the ideal point model provided a good account of the response process and provided better interpretability for the full trait continuum than a dominance model. Importantly, people who were the most insecure were the most likely to be scored differently under these two item response models. In Study 2, the association between attachment anxiety and subjective well-being scores was higher using ideal point than dominance-based scoring, and this was especially the case among subsets of people who were highly insecure. Study 3 demonstrated a similar pattern using simulation data. In summary, when dominance-based methods are used to measure adult attachment, people who are extremely insecure may be assessed in suboptimal ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1828-1847
Number of pages20
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • adult attachment
  • ideal point model
  • item response theory
  • measurement and scoring
  • self-reported typical behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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