Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)

The adult attachment interview (AAI) is a procedure for assessing attachment in adults. The AAI takes about an hour to complete and follows a prescribed format in which twenty questions are asked in a set order. The interview begins with the interviewee being asked to give a general description of their childhood relationships, followed by a request to list five adjectives which best represent the relationship between them and each of their parents. After adjectives are provided, the interviewee is asked to remember and describe specific episodic memories which best illustrate why a particular adjective was chosen. In addition to questions about the interviewee’s childhood relationship with his or her parents, the adult attachment interview includes questions to assess the nature of the participant’s current relationship with his or her parents. The adult attachment interview has a scoring and classification system focused on three categories:

1. Secure-autonomous
2. Insecure-dismissing
3. Insecure-preoccupied

A person falls under a certain category based on whether or not he or she follows a particular ‘strategy’ when answering questions during the interview. For example, someone who is secure-autonomous would simply answer the questions asked whereas someone who is insecure-dismissing might refuse to discuss potentially distressing experiences.

Cassidy, J., Shaver, P. R. (2008) “The Adult Attachment Interview.” Handbook of attachment: theory, research, and clinical applications. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press. 552-598.