Implicit and explicit measures of adult attachment to mothers in a Chinese context

Zhen Ren1, Dengfeng Wang2, Anbo Yang3, Meng Li3, Louise T. Higgins4
1China Executive Leadership Academy and Peking University, People’s Republic of China
2Peking University, People’s Republic of China
3East China Normal University, People’s Republic of China
4University of Chester, United Kingdom
Cite this article:  Ren, Z., Wang, D., Yang, A., Li, M., & Higgins, L. (2011). Implicit and explicit measures of adult attachment to mothers in a Chinese context. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 39, 701-712.

Volume 39 Issue 5 | e2154 | Published: June 2011 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2011.39.5.701

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In this study we explored the relationship between implicit and explicit measures of adult attachment to mothers and the validity of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) as a tool for measuring adult attachment in a Chinese context. Conscious and explicit adult attachment were assessed using 2 multiple self-report measures; namely, the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) and the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998). The implicit processes of adult attachment were assessed using 2 IATs, which were developed based on the 2-dimensional attachment model (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Self-esteem, as measured by the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), and subjective well-being, as measured by the Face Scale (Andrews & Withey, 1976), were designed as potential correlates of the implicit and explicit attachment measures. Fifty-six undergraduates  participated in this study, and it was concluded that both the Self-IAT and the Other-IAT (1) could be used to measure adult attachment with satisfactory reliability and validity; (2) were significantly related to the 2 dimensions of adult attachment, as measured by the RQ and the ECR; (3) correlated significantly positively with subjective well-being, but not with explicit self-esteem. We concluded that implicit and explicit attachment measures might represent different aspects of the same underlying construct.

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