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Self-Report Attachment Measures

This section provides a brief introduction to the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) and the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994). Readers are advised to conduct a review of the relevant literature in order to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the concept of adult attachment and the wide array of measures available to assess adult attachment (see references at end and links to other attachment sites).  Also included in this section are answers to frequently asked questions related to the use of the RQ and RSQ.  If your questions are not answered here, see the Frequently Asked Questions section.

We want to emphasize that research papers testing the validity of the two-dimensional model of adult attachment do not rely on these self-report measures. Vvalidation results in Bartholomew & Horowitz (1991) relied on ratings obtained from the Peer Attachment Interview (PAI), and validation of the attachment dimensions (Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994) was based on multiple measures of attachment including interview measures.

Before considering use of the RQ and/or the RSQ in your research, we recommend that you consider one of the newer continuous measures of adult attachment.  In particular, you may want to consider Chris Fraley's Experiences in Close Relationships measure (the ECR-Revised)  which is widely used in the field of adult attachment.


Relationship Questionnaire  (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).   

The RQ is a single item measure made up of four short paragraphs, each describing a prototypical attachment pattern as it applies in close adult peer relationships.  Participants are asked to rate their degree of correspondence to each prototype on a 7-point scale.  An individual might rate him or herself something like: Secure 6, Fearful 2, Preoccupied 1, Dismissing 4.  These ratings (or "scores") provide a profile of an individual's attachment feelings and behaviour.

The RQ can either be worded in terms of general orientations to close relationships, orientations to romantic relationships, or orientations to a specific relationship (or some combination of the above). It can also be reworded in the third person and used to rate others' attachment patterns. For instance, we have had close same sex friends and romantic partners rate themselves and their friend or partner.  The version of the RQ posted on this site includes three different rating formats to give you an idea of the options.

The RQ was designed to obtain continuous ratings of each of the four attachment patterns, and this is the ideal use of the measure. Although the RQ can be used as a categorical measure of attachment, we strongly advise against doing so. The field has long moved away from categorical approaches. A prototype or dimensional approach are the more acceptable ways to score the measure.

However, if necessary, the RQ can also be used to categorize participants into their best fitting attachment pattern. The highest of the four attachment prototype ratings can be used to classify participants into an attachment category.  A problem arises when two or more attachment prototypes are rated equally high.  To deal with this, we also ask participants to choose a single,  best fitting attachment pattern.   However, if they have not chosen a best fitting attachment pattern, the researcher can either delete the participant(s) from the data set, or use a method of randomly (perhaps flipping a coin) selecting one of the two prototypes as the attachment category.  If there is a 3-way tie for highest rating and a best fitting attachment pattern has not been chosen,there is little option but to delete that participant's data. Although the RQ can be used categorically, we do NOT recommend doing so. A continuous approach, using prototypes or dimensions, is the best approach.

**It is important to administer BOTH the forced-choice paragraph (1st page of measure) AND the likert rating scales of the paragraphs (2nd page of measure), even if you will not use the RQ categorically. Completing the forced-choice paragraph first serves as a counterbalancing effect to minimize order effects when participants rank the degree to which each prototype is self-characterizing.



The underlying attachment dimensions can be derived from linear combinations of the prototype ratings obtained from the RQ (or the composite attachment measure, see below).

Self Model/Anxiety - patterns characterized by positive self models minus patterns characterized by negative self models [i.e. (secure plus dismissing) MINUS (fearful plus preoccupied)] . If you wish your results to correspond to the anxiety dimension, the calculation can be reversed [i.e. (fearful plus preoccupied) MINUS (secure plus dismissing)]. In the latter calculation, higher scores will refer to higher anxiety and more negative models of self.

Other Model/Avoidance - patterns characterized by positive other models minus patterns characterized by negative other models [i.e. (secure plus preoccupied) MINUS (fearful plus dismissing)].  If you wish your results to correspond to the avoidance dimension, the calculation can be reversed [i.e. (fearful plus dismissing) MINUS (secure plus preoccupied)]. In the latter calculation, higher scores will refer to higher avoidance and and more negative models of the other.


Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994).  

The RSQ contains 30 short statements drawn from Hazan and Shaver's (1987) attachment measure, Bartholomew and Horowitz's (1991) Relationship Questionnaire, and Collins and Read's (1990) Adult Attachment Scale. On a 5-point scale, participants rate the extent to which each statement best describes their characteristic style in close relationships. Five statements contribute to the secure and dismissing attachment patterns and four statements contribute to the fearful and preoccupied attachment patterns. Scores for each attachment pattern are derived by taking the mean of the four or five items representing each attachment prototype.

In addition to obtaining the four-category model subscales of the RSQ (see below for the relevant items), the three Hazan & Shaver (1987) attachment styles can be obtained by simply going back to their original Adult Attachment Style measure and matching up the statements. Additionally, the three dimensions used by Collins and Read (1990) can also be obtained. Alternatively, and perhaps preferably, you can use the questionnaire to derive scales of the underlying two dimensions of anxiety and avoidance (see below).  

Like the RQ, the RSQ can be worded in terms of general orientations to close relationships, orientations to romantic relationships, or orientations to a specific adult, peer relationship.



What items in the RSQ correspond to the four attachment prototypes?

Secure Items:   3,  9(Reverse),  10,  15,  28(Reverse).
Fearful Items:    1,  5,  12,  24.
Preoccupied Items:   6(Reverse),  8,  16,  25.
Dismissing Items:   2,  6,  19,  22,  26

We recommend averaging the items for each subscale rather than summing them because different prototypes are derived with different numbers of items.

The RSQ is designed as a continuous measure of adult attachment. The RSQ was NOT designed, nor intended to be used, as a categorical measure of attachment. If, however, it is absolutely necessary for you to classify participants into attachment patterns, you must use standard scores. First, you would create the four subscales by computing the mean rating of the items for each subscale. Then you would transform those mean ratings into standard scores. This is a far from ideal use of the RSQ and should be undertaken only as a last resort!

Why aren’t all the items in the RSQ used in creating the four prototype scores?

The additional items in the RSQ can be used to create subscales to assess the attachment dimensions identified by Simpson, Rholes, & Nelligan (1992) and  Collins & Read (1990).  Thus, researchers are able to relate the RSQ to alternate self-report measures of adult attachment.  (see: Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994).



Ideally, you will use the questionnaire to derive scales of the underlying two dimensions.  This can be done in at least three ways:  1) by conducting a factor analysis of the items, 2) by using the scores from the four prototype items to create linear combinations representing the self and other-model attachment dimensions, or 3) by consulting Kurdek (2002) (reference below) which recommends the best approach for scoring the measure dimensionally (see See Table 4, Model 3a).  We recommend the third approach. 



It is possible to administer the RQ and the RSQ and then combine the obtained scores to form a composite measure of adult attachment. First, attachment ratings on both the RQ and the RSQ need to be converted into standard scores (z-scores). Next, the standardized parallel RQ and RSQ scores are combined. For example, the now standardized RQ secure scores are combined with the now standardized RSQ secure scores to form a single, composite measure of secure attachment.  Apply the same procedure to the remaining attachment pattern ratings. These composite scores can be used in all subsequent analyses. The composite attachment ratings can also be used to obtain the self-model/avoidance and other-model/avoidance attachment dimensions as previously described.

For an example of this procedure see: Ognibene, T.C., & Collins, N.L. (1998). Adult attachment styles, perceived social support and coping strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 15(3), 323-345.



Bartholomew, K., & Shaver, P. (1998).  Measures of attachment: Do they converge? In. J.A. Simpson & W.S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 25-45).  New York: Guildford Press.

Griffin, D., & Bartholomew, K. (1994).  Metaphysics of measurement:  The case of adult attachment.  In K. Bartholomew & D. Perlman (Eds.), Advances in personal relationships, Vol. 5:  Attachment processes in adulthood (pp.17-52).  London: Jessica Kingsley.

Griffin, D., & Bartholomew, K.  (1994).  Models of the self and other: Fundamental dimensions underlying measures of adult attachment.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(3), 430-445.

Kurdek, L.A. (2002). On being insecure about the assessment of attachment styles. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19(6), 811–834.

The following book contains a comprehensive overview of research in adult attachment:
M. Mikulincer & PR Shaver (2007). Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change


Also see:  Frequently asked questions