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Dev Psychol. 2003 May;39(3):387-404.

Are infant attachment patterns continuously or categorically distributed? A taxometric analysis of strange situation behavior.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60607-7137, USA.


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.

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