Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Cheryl McNeil

Committee Member

Elisa Krackow

Committee Member

Amy Gentzler

Committee Member

Kristina Hash


Child-caregiver attachment is an important factor in healthy child development and is often targeted by early intervention programs. To assess the efficacy of these interventions, attachment must be accurately measured across the toddler years in populations referred for treatment of externalizing behavior problems. The Strange Situation Procedure (SSP; Ainsworth et al., 1978) and Attachment Q-Set (AQS; Waters, 1987) are empirically-validated measures of child-caregiver attachment, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Previous research has reached mixed conclusions on relations between the observer-report AQS and SSP, depending on sample and study characteristics, and a review of the literature did not produce any published investigations on concurrent relations between the two measures across clinically-referred, mental health populations. Using a clinical sample of 69 Australian mother-toddler dyads referred for disruptive behavior problems, this study examined associations among behavior problems, SSP classifications, AQS Security scores, and child age. In line with hypotheses, data revealed a significant small to medium correlation between AQS Security and externalizing behavior. Unexpectedly, no significant association was found between SSP classifications and externalizing behavior. Although AQS and SSP Security scores were not significantly correlated for the sample as a whole, there was a moderate correlation among the two measures for children ages 19-25 months. Implications of these results on future research measuring attachment in this population, with particular relevance for early intervention outcome studies and clinical work, are discussed.