Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Examination of Internal Consistency and Construct Validity of Scores on the Parental Attachment Scale: Preliminary Psychometric Results

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Examination of Internal Consistency and Construct Validity of Scores on the Parental Attachment Scale: Preliminary Psychometric Results

Article excerpt

The Parental Attachment Scale was developed through exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and validation of a final 23-item scale. Comparison with existing parental attachment measures and a subliminally primed lexical decision task was also conducted. Results across the 3 studies suggested satisfactory internal consistency and construct validity.


Adult attachment has typically been assessed in one of two ways: semistructured clinical interviews, most commonly the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; Main & Goldwyn, 1998), and self-report. Using self-report inventories to assess attachment makes sense, as Crowell, Fraley, and Shaver (1999) pointed out, because attachment relationships are such an important part of most people's lives that it is logical that they can provide important information about these relationships. More pragmatically, self-report instruments offer the advantage of requiring little training to administer and consequently being easy, quick, and relatively inexpensive to use. However, there are also some problems with using attachment self-report instruments. First, there is an unresolved debate in the self-report literature about how best to assess attachment, concerning issues such as which relationships to target or underlying dimensions to use (Heiss, Berman, & Sperling, 1996; McCarthy, Moller, & Fouladi, 2001). Second, there is a troubling lack of correspondence between attachment assessed through self-report and through interviews such as the AAI (Crowell, Treboux, & Waters, 1999). If such problems could be addressed, the usefulness of self-report instruments--especially in comparison with the AAI, which is somewhat time-consuming and expensive to administer, transcribe, and score (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998; Stein, Jacobs, Ferguson, Allen, & Fonagy, 1998)--seems evident.

Based on the considerations outlined above, the impetus behind the development of the Parental Attachment Scale (PAS) was to develop a measure that (a) addresses some of the problems in current self-report attachment instruments and (b) incorporates some of the strengths of the AAI, notably a more complex conceptualization of attachment patterns that includes notions of typical emotional coping strategies, as well as an attempt to capture nonconscious elements of attachment representations.


There currently appears to be disagreement by developers of self-report attachment instruments about how to define the construct of attachment. For attachment pioneer Bowlby (1969), the critical factor that identifies an attachment figure is that it is to this person that an individual turns when distressed. More specifically, secure and insecure individuals are primarily thought to be distinguished by their differing expectations of the preparedness and ability of their attachment figures to play these roles (Bowlby, 1973), the way and extent to which they approach these persons (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978), and the way they manage their emotions when attachment-related distress arises (Main & Goldwyn, 1998). However, many existing attachment self-report measures assess other, arguably less central, aspects of attachment relationships, such as the general affective tone of the relationship (Heiss et al., 1996). In addition, it is not always clear that the relationships targeted by some attachment self-report instruments are in fact attachment relationships. Fraley and Shaver (2000) have suggested that it may take as long as 2 years for a romantic relationship to become a "true" attachment relationship and argue that romantic attachment self-report instruments may routinely be used incorrectly to assess romantic relationships that are not also attachment relationships.

Although some attachment self-report instruments can be criticized for not clearly targeting attachment relationships, a more pervasive issue is that the measures differ in the aspects of attachment on which they focus. …

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