Adult attachment representations, parental responsiveness, and infant attachment: a meta-analysis on the predictive validity of the Adult Attachment Interview

Psychol Bull. 1995 May;117(3):387-403. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.387.


About a decade ago, the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; C. George, N. Kaplan, & M. Main, 1985) was developed to explore parents' mental representations of attachment as manifested in language during discourse of childhood experiences. The AAI was intended to predict the quality of the infant-parent attachment relationship, as observed in the Ainsworth Strange Situation, and to predict parents' responsiveness to their infants' attachment signals. The current meta-analysis examined the available evidence with respect to these predictive validity issues. In regard to the 1st issue, the 18 available samples (N = 854) showed a combined effect size of 1.06 in the expected direction for the secure vs. insecure split. For a portion of the studies, the percentage of correspondence between parents' mental representation of attachment and infants' attachment security could be computed (the resulting percentage was 75%; kappa = .49, n = 661). Concerning the 2nd issue, the 10 samples (N = 389) that were retrieved showed a combined effect size of .72 in the expected direction. According to conventional criteria, the effect sizes are large. It was concluded that although the predictive validity of the AAI is a replicated fact, there is only partial knowledge of how attachment representations are transmitted (the transmission gap).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Language
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents*
  • Reproducibility of Results*