Adult attachment interviews of women from low-risk, poverty, and maltreatment risk samples: comparisons between the hostile/helpless and traditional AAI coding systems

Alessandra Frigerio, Elisabetta Costantino, Elisa Ceppi, Lavinia Barone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The main aim of this study was to investigate the correlates of a Hostile-Helpless (HH) state of mind among 67 women belonging to a community sample and two different at-risk samples matched on socio-economic indicators, including 20 women from low-SES population (poverty sample) and 15 women at risk for maltreatment being monitored by the social services for the protection of juveniles (maltreatment risk sample). The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) protocols were reliably coded blind to the samples' group status. The rates of HH classification increased in relation to the risk status of the three samples, ranging from 9% for the low-risk sample to 60% for the maltreatment risk sample to 75% for mothers in the maltreatment risk sample who actually maltreated their infants. In terms of the traditional AAI classification system, 88% of the interviews from the maltreating mothers were classified Unresolved/Cannot Classify (38%) or Preoccupied (50%). Partial overlapping between the 2 AAI coding systems was found, and discussion concerns the relevant contributions of each AAI coding system to understanding of the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-442
Number of pages19
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

Keywords

  • Adult Attachment Interview
  • disorganization
  • Hostile-Helpless state of mind
  • trauma
  • unresolved state of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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