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13-11-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2020

Adolescents’ Attachment: Content and Discriminant Validity of the Friends and Family Interview

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2020
Cecilia Serena Pace, Stefania Muzi, Howard Steele
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There are few methods to assess attachment representations during adolescence, all showing strengths and limits. The Friends and Family Interview (FFI) is the only narrative interview considering a wide range of relevant domains in adolescents’ life, including peer and sibling relationships, as well as self-esteem, relations with parents and reflective functioning. However, the FFI has been used sparingly with community samples, never with adolescents older than 14-years, and few studies have investigated its psychometric characteristics. This study aimed at investigating the content and discriminant validity of the FFI, comparing the distribution of FFI classifications with the distribution observed in adolescents in response to the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), based on national and international meta-analytic reports. This paper also aimed to consider FFI classifications and rating scales with respondents’ gender, age, verbal intelligence and internalizing-externalizing problems.


Participants were 110 adolescents aged 11–17 years (M = 14.22, 50% boys), recruited from schools in North-west Italy, coming from low risk families. Measures administered were the FFI, the Verbal Comprehension Index of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (ICV-WISC-IV) for verbal skills, the Child Behavior Checklist 6–18 years (CBCL) for internalizing–externalizing problems.


The distribution of FFI classifications overlapped with the AAI distribution seen in a national meta-analysis, while less insecure dismissing and disorganized FFI responses were found compared to the AAI distribution in the international meta-analytic report; girls were more secure and less dismissing than boys, while FFI classifications were unrelated to adolescents’ age, verbal skills, or internalizing–externalizing problems, although relevant correlations were found with some of the FFI rating scales.


Within a culturally-oriented perspective, the FFI appears to be a reliable and valid method to investigate adolescent IWMs in both research and clinical settings.

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