has been relatively little development of contextualised interview
approaches of attachment style in relation to support contexts. The
ASI is the only one which includes a behavioural assessment of ongoing
quality of relationship with partner, ‘Very Close Others’
and family of origin as the basis for a rating of ability to make
and maintain relationships which equates with degree of security or
functioning in relationships. Thus not only does it provide quantified
information on the level of support (in terms of degree of confiding
or active emotional support in key relationships), how positive or
negative the interaction is, and how much felt attachment is in the
relationship, but also provides descriptive information about the
particular individual in their relationship.
is in response to standardised semi-structured interview questions
(taking around 60 minutes) supplemented by a open number of probing
questions to elicit further descriptive material, which is then evidenced
by questions of examples of behaviour (e.g. ‘can you describe
a recent problem that you confided in your partner?’) or frequency
(‘how often do you have arguments or rows?’) or intensity
(‘how would you feel if the other person moved away to live?’).
This information is tape recorded and then rated after the interview
from the tape (taking around twice the interview length) on especially
rated on a number of different scales, in especially designed interview
packs, with benchmarked thresholds provided.
ASI assesses five attachment styles (Enmeshed, Fearful, Angry-Dismissive,
Withdrawn and Secure) It also determines the degree of insecurity
of style present in the insecure styles, in terms of ‘marked,
moderate or mild’ levels. These are determined by the poor quality
of ongoing relationships (in terms of closeness, support and conflict)
and the intensity of negative attachment attitudes. The resulting
overall scale thus provides categories for both type and intensity
of attachment style. Reliability of the measure is good, not only
in its original London site with inter-rater correlations all over
0.75 but also when transposed to a study across 7 European and US
sites and in Japan.
interview assesses an individual's overall style of attachment based
on detailed questioning of ongoing close relationships (partner and
up to two adults named as close supportive figures, including friends
or family) as well as global attitudes to attachment avoidance (e.g.
mistrust, constraints on closeness, high self-reliance, angry interactions)
and anxious attachment (e.g. desire for engagement with others, fear
of intimacy, intolerance of separation and low self-reliance). From
the combined information profiles of Enmeshed, Fearful, Angry-dismissive,
Withdrawn or Secure styles are derived, largely based on those identified
in previous measures (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Bartholomew
& Shaver, 1998).
because of the clinical focus of the study, an additional classification
of degree of insecurity is made, based on the extent to which behaviour
and attitudes in relationships are dysfunctional. Thus within each
style an individual can be assessed as 'markedly', 'moderately' or
'mildly' insecure. This is based both on behaviour
such as the range of problematic interactions in relationships or
the absence of support figures and attitudes concerning
the intensity and pervasiveness of negativity in relation to intimacy.
This measure of attachment style has proved to be highly related to
major depression, including new onset of disorder, and also to depressive
vulnerability such as childhood neglect/abuse, low self-esteem and
range of negative characteristics in relationships. Prospective investigation
with the ASI has shown it acts as a partial mediator between neglect
and abuse in childhood and onset of depression or anxiety.
Vulnerable Attachment Style Questionnaire is a self-report instrument
validated against the ASI interview. This has shown good internal
consistency, test-retest reliability and is predictive of depression.
Bifulco, A., Moran, P. M., Ball, C., & Bernazzani, O.
(2002). Adult attachment style. I:Its relationship to clinical
depression. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology,
Bifulco, A., Moran, P. M., Ball, C., & Lillie, A. (2002).
Adult attachment style. II: Its relationship to psychosocial
depressive-vulnerability. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric
Epidemiology, 37, 60-67.
Bifulco, A., Kwon, J.-H., Moran, P., Jacobs, C., Bunn, A.,
& Beer, N. (2006). Adult attachment style as a mediator
of childhood neglect/abuse and adult depression and anxiety. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology.
Bifulco, A., Mahon, J., Kwon, J.-H., Moran, P., & Jacobs,
C. (2003). The vulnerable attachment style questionnaire (VASQ):
An interview-derived measure of attachment styles that predict
depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 33,
further information on ASI measure visit www.attachmentstyleinterview.com