Shedding light on the specificity of school-aged children's attachment narratives.

Research paper by Jessica L JL Borelli, Jennifer A JA Somers, Jessica L JL West, John K JK Coffey, Yael Y Shmueli-Goetz

Indexed on: 20 Jan '16Published on: 20 Jan '16Published in: Attachment & human development


A prominent research tradition within the field of attachment involves analyzing relationship narratives for qualities thought to reveal important information regarding the organization of attachment, and the different ways in which attachment insecurity presents. Researchers increasingly use this method to assess attachment in middle childhood, but further work needs to be conducted with respect to the divergent validity of attachment narratives in this age range. Thus, the current study examined differential associations between children's discursive style and linguistic behavior when completing an attachment interview (Child Attachment Interview [CAI]) and Non-Relational Interview (NRI). In addition, the discriminant validity of attachment narratives was assessed in predicting children's physiological reactivity to a relational challenge. Children (N = 125) completed the NRI and the CAI at Time 1. A subset of the original sample (n = 64) completed another assessment 1.5 years later involving simulated non-relational and relational challenges. While narrative coherence was moderately associated across the two interviews, CAI narrative coherence uniquely predicted reactivity to a relational probe. We discuss implications for understanding children's narrative styles across discourse topics as well as the significance of the results for using attachment interviews in this age range.