Adult Attachment States of Mind: Measurement Invariance Across Ethnicity and Associations With Maternal Sensitivity


  • John D. Haltigan is now at the University of Ottawa.
  • This project was supported by R01HD058578. The contents of this manuscript are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. We are grateful to the participants for their time, and Regan Burney and other key staff for their dedication.


This study examined the developmental significance of mothers' adult attachment representations assessed prenatally with the Adult Attachment Interview in relation to observed maternal sensitivity at 6 months postpartum in an ethnically diverse sample (N = 131 African American; = 128 European American). Multiple-group confirmatory factor analyses provided evidence for partial measurement invariance of a two-factor dismissing and preoccupied latent structure of adult attachment across the two ethnic groups of women. African American women showed modest elevations on the preoccupied factor relative to European American women. Although the dismissing factor showed an empirically equivalent negative association with maternal sensitivity in both ethnic groups, this effect was reduced to marginal significance when controlling for maternal socioeconomic status.