Other Measures of Attachment

The Strange Situation continues to be the benchmark method for assessing attachment security in infancy. Alternatives, however, have been developed. The Attachment Q-sort, developed by Everett Waters, is a method designed to assess attachment security naturalistically in the home environment. Observers sort a set of ninety cards with behavioral descriptions—for example, ''Actively solicits comforting from adult when distressed''—from most characteristic to least characteristic of the child. The child's profile is compared to that of a prototypical securely attached child, based on attachment researchers' hypothetical sorts or rankings of the cards.

Methods have also been developed for assessing attachment security in adolescence and adulthood. Preeminent among these is the Adult Attachment Interview (developed by Carol George, Nancy Kaplan, and Mary Main), a semistructured interview in which adults are asked to reflect and report on their early experiences with attachment figures, typically their mothers and fathers. The coding system focuses on the consistency and coherency of responses. Adults are classified as ''secure/autonomous'' if they express value for their early attachment relationships and are able to report on these experiences in a clear and organized fashion. Adults are classified as ''dismissing'' if they devalue the importance of early attachment re lationships by expressing disregard for negative experiences, by having few memories of childhood, or by having idealized memories of their childhoods. Adults are classified as "preoccupied" if they display confusion or anger regarding early attachment relationships and talk excessively about their early experiences concerning them. Finally, adults are classified as "unresolved/disorganized" if they demonstrate lapses in reasoning during discussions of loss or abuse.

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