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Dev Psychol. 2008 Jul;44(4):939-56. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.4.939.

The Child Attachment Interview: a psychometric study of reliability and discriminant validity.

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  • 1Subdepartment of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK.


While well-established attachment measures have been developed for infancy, early childhood, and adulthood, a "measurement gap" has been identified in middle childhood, where behavioral or representational measures are not yet sufficiently robust. This article documents the development of a new measure--the Child Attachment Interview (CAI)--which seeks to bridge this gap. The CAI is a semistructured interview, in which children are invited to describe their relationships with their primary caregivers. The coding system is informed by the Adult Attachment Interview and the Strange Situation Procedure, and produces 4 attachment categories along with a continuous measure of attachment security based on ratings of attachment-related dimensions. The main psychometric properties are presented, including interrater reliability, test-retest reliability, and concurrent and discriminant validities, both for normally developing children and for those referred for mental health treatment. The CAI correlates as expected with other attachment measures and predicts independently collected ratings of social functioning. The findings suggest that the CAI is a reliable, valid, and promising measure of child-parent attachment in middle childhood. Directions for improvements to the coding system are discussed.

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