Attachment Style Correlation

The table below shows how the adult attachments identified in the adult attachment interview, correlate to the infant attachments identified in the Strange Situation.

This table is a modified version of one that appears in Hesse (1999, p.399).

Table 1- Correlation of AAI Styles and Strange Situation Behaviours

Adult State of Mind With Respect To Attachment

Infant Strange Situation Behaviour

Secure / Autonomous


Coherent collaborative discourse. Valuing of attachment, but seems objective regarding any particular event or relationship. Description and evaluation of attachment-related experience is consistent, whether experiences are favourable or unfavourable.




Explores room and toys with interest in pre-separation episodes. Show signs of missing parent during separation, often crying by second separation. Obvious preference for parent over stranger. Greets parent actively, usually initiating physical contact.



Not coherent. Dismissing of attachment related experiences and relationships. Normalising (“excellent, very normal mother”), with generalised representations of history unsupported or actively contradicted by episodes recounted. Transcripts also tend to be excessively brief.




Fails to cry on separation from parent. Actively avoids and ignores parent on reunion (i.e. by moving away, turning away, or leaning our arms when picked up). Little or no proximity seeking, no distress and no anger. Response to parent seems unemotional. Focuses on toys or environment throughout the process.



Not coherent. Preoccupied by past attachment relationships/experiences, speaker appears angry, passive or fearful. Sentences often long, grammatically entangled or filled with vague usages (“dada,” “and that”). Transcripts often excessively long.

Resistant or Ambivalent


May be wary or distressed prior to separation, with little exploration. Preoccupied with parent throughout procedure; may seem angry or passive. Fails to settle and take comfort in parent on reunion, and usually continues to focus on parent and cry. Fails to return to exploration after reunion.


Unresolved / Disorganised


During discussions of loss or abuse, individuals show striking lapse in the monitoring or reasoning or discourse. For example, individual may briefly indicate a belief that a dead person is still alive in the physical sense, or that this person was killed by a childhood thought. Individual may lapse into prolonged silence or eulogistic speech.

Disorganised / Disorientated


The infant displays disorganised and / or disoriented behaviours in the parent’s presence, suggesting a temporary collapse of behavioural strategy. For example, the infant may freeze with a trance-like expression, hands in air; may rise at parent’s entrance, then fall prone and huddled on the floor; or may cling while crying and leaning away with gaze averted.


This table is a modified version of one that appears in Hesse (1999, p.399).