Adult Attachment Projective

The Adult Attachment Projective Picture System © is a free-response (i.e., performance base) assessment of adult attachment status developed following the principles of attachment theory, research, and the gold standard assessments in the field of attachment.  Coding and classification system is based on the analysis of the responses to a set of standardized picture stimuli.  The AAP was developed to provide researchers and clinicians with a construct validated measure of adult attachment that (1) preserves the emphasis on mental representation and defensive processes that are central features of attachment theory (e.g., Bowlby, 1969; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985; George & Solomon, 2008; Solomon & George, 1996) and (2) circumvents the limitations of administration and analysis of interview measures.

The AAP system designates four classification groups that parallel those of the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1984/1985/1996; Main & Goldwyn, 1985-1998; Main, Goldwyn, & Hesse, 2008).  Since most attachment researchers “boil down” their data to major classification groups or simply place individuals into secure or insecure groups, the AAP meets the needs of the vast majority of researchers and clinicians who use the adult attachment construct in their work.  In addition, the AAP provides unique construct-based information about representational patterns of attachment that cannot be assessed using other measures.

The Measure

The AAP is comprised of eight drawn pictures: seven attachment-related drawings and one drawing of a neutral scene used as a warm-up.  These drawings depict events that, according to attachment theory, activate the attachment system (e.g., illness, separation, solitude, death, and abuse).  Drawings portray adult-adult dyads, adult-child dyads, adults alone, and children alone and capture attachment across the life span, child to old age.

Attachment Classification and Attachment Dimensions

Individuals are classified into one of four major adult attachment classification groups: Secure, Dismissing, Preoccupied, and Unresolved.  In addition to the overall classification groups, individuals are described on several attachment theory derived dimensions: Agency of Self, Connectedness, and Synchrony.  The AAP also assesses individual differences in patterns of attachment-based defensive processes: Deactivation, Cognitive Disconnection, and Segregated Systems- disorganization and trauma processing.

Validation of the AAP

Our work with the AAP to date has established interjudge reliability and convergent validity with the AAI.  The reliability figures reported here are based on a combined data set that includes a subsample of mothers of Failure to Thrive Infants and their controls who participated in a large research project in Toronto, Canada (Dr. Diane Benoit, Principal Investigator), a subsample from the Calgary Depression Study (Dr. Malcolm West, Principal Investigator), and participants in a large scale validity study.  Independent judges blind to AAI classification and all other participant information completed AAP classifications. Trained AAI judges completed AAI classifications.  The reliability figures are as follows: AAP interjudge reliability (N = 193) for secure versus insecure classifications, .97% (kappa = .74, p<000); interjudge reliability for the four major attachment groups, 97%  (kappa = .82, p<000); AAP-AAI convergence for secure versus insecure classifications, 97% (kappa = .80, p = .000); convergence for the four major attachment groups is 92%  (kappa = .89, p = .000). Test-retest reliability over a four month period was assessed with a subsample of 69 participants.  Fifty-eight (84%) were classified in the same main classification group (for more information, see George & West, Adult Attachment Projective Picture System, Guilford Press, 2011).


The AAP has established validity and applicability in research, clinical, and forensic settings.