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Categorical and Dimensional Comparison of the Adult Attachment Measures

Nebi Sümer
2006; 21(57):1-24

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In this study, first, the factor structure of the Experiences in Close Relationships Inventory (ECR) was examined, and then, the predictive power of attachment categories and dimensions were compared by employing the three scales commonly used in measuring adult attachment styles and dimensions (the Relationships Questionnaire, RQ; the Relationships Scales Questionnaire, RSQ; and the ECR). University students (N = 272) completed a set of questionnaires consisting of the three attachment measures and seven scales theoretically associated with attachment styles (self-esteem, self-concept clarity, trait anxiety, concern over separation, pleasing others, concern for approval, and autonomy). Results revealed that the anxiety and avoidance dimensions of attachment were reliably measured by the ECR. Overall, analyses using the attachment categories demonstrated that the differences between the attachment styles on the dependent variables were consistent with the premises of the Four Category Model for all scales. Results of the discriminant function analyses on the attachment groups showed that the attachment groups formed on the basis of the ECR dimensions were more congruent with the Four-Category Model than the attachment groups formed using the subscales of the RQ and the RSQ. Regression analyses using attachment dimensions and their interactions as predictors of the dependent variables revealed that attachment dimensions accounted for much larger proportions of variances and had stronger predictive power than the attachment categories. Findings were discussed on the basis of previous studies and it was recommended that future researchers utilize dimensional analyses and measures.

Keywords: Attachment anxiety, avoidance, attachment categories, attachment dimensions