Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Adult Attachment Interview

  • Mary A. FisherEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_680

Name and Type of Measure

Adult Attachment Interview (AAI).


The AAI is a semistructured interview and scoring system developed to assess adult- and adolescent-attachment based on congruence between semantic and episodic memories. To illustrate, the semantic descriptor “loving” about an interviewee’s childhood relationship with his mother is incongruent with the episodic memory of being punished for failing to take out the trash, but is congruent with the memory of being surprised that she comforted the interviewee for failing a history exam.

The AAI contains 18 questions that probe autobiographical childhood memories, descriptions of relationships with primary caregivers, and experiences of loss and trauma. Trained coders analyze responses for coherence of discourse, comprised of natural conversational maxims, including veracity, concision, relevance, and order (Grice 1975), resulting in assignment on one of the continuous rating scales of attachment:

Secure-Autonomous (F)....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ammaniti, M., Speranza, A. M., & Candelori, C. (1996). Stability of attachment in hildren and intergenerational transmission of attachment. Psychiatria dell-Infanzia e dell-Adolscenza, 63, 313–332.Google Scholar
  2. Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., & Van IJzendoorn, M.H. (1993). A psychometric study of the Adult Attachment Interview: Reliability and discriminant validity. Developmental Psychology, 29(5), 870–879.Google Scholar
  3. Crowell, J.A., Waters, E., Treboux, D., O’Connor, E., Colon-Downs, C., Feider, O., Golby, B., & Posada, G. (1996). Discriminant validity of the Adult Attachment Interview. Child Development, 67, 2584–2599.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. George, C., Kaplan, N., & Main, M. (1984). Adult Attachment Interview protocol. Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
  5. Grice, P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics. 3: Speech acts (pp. 41–58). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  6. Hesse, E. (2008). The adult attachment interview: Protocol, method of analysis, and empirical studies. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd ed., pp. 552–598). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. Steele, H., & Steele, M. (Eds.). (2008). Clinical applications of the Adult Attachment Interview. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  8. van IJzendoorn, M.H., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. (1993). A psychometric study of the Adult Attachment Interview: Reliability and discriminant validity. Developmental Psychology, 29, 870–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. (1996). Attachment representations in mothers, fathers, adolescents and clinical groups: A meta-analytic search for normative data. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 8–21.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mary Fisher Psychotherapy, PLLCSalt Lake CityUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Heather Pederson
    • 1
  1. 1.Council for RelationshipsPhiladelphiaUSA