Reliability of self-reported attachment style in patients with severe psychopathology

J Pers Assess. 2011 Sep-Oct;93(5):491-9. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2011.594128.


Little is known about whether severe psychopathology influences the assessment of self-reported attachment style. Fifty-eight randomly selected adult psychiatric inpatients completed the Experiences in Close Relationship questionnaire (ECR; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) and were administered the 24-item Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS; Ventura et al., 1993) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS; Hamilton, 1960) at both admission and discharge. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I; First, Spitzer, Gibbon, & Williams, 1996) was used to establish Axis I diagnoses. The ECR scales showed good internal consistency and absolute stability both in patients with (n = 24) and without (n = 34) a psychotic disorder. Relative stability was only fair among patients with psychotic disorders but good among patients without psychotic disorders. Neither higher BPRS or HDRS scores, nor the presence of a psychotic disorder, significantly reduced the retest reliability of the ECR scales. These findings suggest that self-report measures might provide a reliable assessment of attachment style in patients with severe psychopathology, except for the most severely impaired patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires