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Target, M. Shmueli-Goetz, Y. Fonagy, P. (2002). Attachment Representations in School-Age Children: The Early Development of the Child Attachment Interview (CAI). J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 2(4):91-105.

(2002). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2(4):91-105

Attachment Representations in School-Age Children: The Early Development of the Child Attachment Interview (CAI)

Mary Target, Ph.D., Yael Shmueli-Goetz, Ph.D. and Peter Fonagy, Ph.D.


The development of attachment measures began with the assessment of infant behavior, in the Strange Situation Paradigm. This procedure and the establishment of its validity led to the “move to the level of representations” (Main et al. 1985), in the assessment of attachment patterns later in development. The greatest achievement here was the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George et al. 1985, Main 1995). The measure described in this chapter has drawn on both the infant and the adult paradigms and coding strategies, in an effort to produce an assessment of attachment in the middle school years.

Measures designed to assess attachment organization in infancy and adulthood have been widely applied and thus well established; the study of attachment in early and middle childhood has proven more problematic. The measurement of attachment in infancy has been rightly restricted to the behavioral level, while in adulthood it has been measured through language and representations. As Ainsworth (1990) argued, the chief concern in using a separation-reunion procedure comparable to the Strange Situation beyond infancy is that with increasing age, the degree of stress induced decreases as the child is gradually exposed to everyday separations of greater length.

In parallel, a plethora of instruments designed to elicit mental representations of attachment in early and middle childhood have been developed, all sharing the assumption that inferred mental representations reflect children's attachment organization. Semi-projective measures eliciting mental representations through drawings (Separation Anxiety Test SAT; Shouldice and Stevenson-Hinde 1992, Slough and Greenberg 1990), family photos and drawings (Main et al. 1985), story stems (Bretherton et al.

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