Relationship Structures (ECR-RS) Questionnaire

R. Chris Fraley


Overview

The Relationship Structures (ECR-RS) questionnaire is a self-report instrument designed to assess attachment patterns in a variety of close relationships. The same 9 items are used to assess attachment styles with respect to 4 targets (i.e., mother, father, romantic partner, and best friend). The items were written in a way that allows them to be used for a variety of interpersonal targets (not just romantic relationships) and for a variety of age groups. If desired, the 9 items can be used to target only one kind of relationship and, therefore, this instrument can be used as a 9-item version of the ECR-R.

In our research, the ECR-RS has proven to be quite useful. The test-retest reliability (over 30 days) of the individual scales are approximately .65 for the domain of romantic relationships (including individuals who experienced breakups during the 30-day period) and .80 in the parental domain. Moreover, research from our lab indicates that the scales are meaningfully related to various relational outcomes (e.g., relationship satisfaction, likelihood of experiencing a breakup, the perception of emotional expressions), as well as to one another.

The first article to be published from our lab using the ECR-RS was the following, which was based on a global composite of the individual relational domain scores:

Fraley, R. C., Niedenthal, P. M., Marks, M. J., Brumbaugh, C. C., & Vicary, A. (2006). Adult attachment and the perception of emotional expressions: Probing the hyperactivating strategies underlying anxious attachment. Journal of Personality, 74, 1163-1190.
A full report on the ECR-RS itself was published in Psychological Assessment. This report discusses the development of the measure and shows the associations between attachment across a variety of relational domains. This paper also reports the associations between the ECR-RS and the ECR-R and a variety of other measures of interpersonal and relational functioning (e.g., depressive symptomology, relationship satisfaction, the Big Five personality traits).

Fraley, R. C., Heffernan, M. E., Vicary, A. M., & Brumbaugh, C. C. (2011). The Experiences in Close Relationships-Relationship Structures questionnaire: A method for assessing attachment orientations across relationships. Psychological Assessment, 23, 615-625.
Information on the stability of ECR-RS scores when used as a "state" measure of attachment is reported in the following article:

Fraley, R. C., Vicary, A. M., Brumbaugh, C. C., & Roisman, G. I. (2011). Patterns of stability in adult attachment: An empirical test of two models of continuity and change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 974-992.

Scoring information

Relationship-specific attachment

Two scores, one for attachment-related avoidance and the other for attachment-related anxiety, should be computed for each interpersonal target (i.e., mother, father, partner, friend). The avoidance score can be computed by averaging items 1 - 6, while reverse keying items 1, 2, 3, and 4. The anxiety score can be computed by averaging items 7 - 9. These two scores should be computed separately for each relationship target.

General or global attachment

[Note: See update below] To create relationship-general or global attachment scores, simply average the scores computed above across domains. The global avoidance score would be the mean of avoidance with mother, avoidance with father, avoidance with partner, and avoidance with friend. Similarly, the global anxiety score would be the mean of anxiety with mother, anxiety with father, anxiety with partner and anxiety with friend. This particular method, however, weights each realtionship domain equally. This may or may not be advisable, depending on your interests. An alternative is to administer the 9 RS items separately with the instruction for people to rate them with resepct to "important people in their lives," leaving the target purposely vague.



Questionnaire items

1. It helps to turn to this person in times of need.
2. I usually discuss my problems and concerns with this person.
3. I talk things over with this person.
4. I find it easy to depend on this person.
5. I don't feel comfortable opening up to this person.
6. I prefer not to show this person how I feel deep down.
7. I often worry that this person doesn't really care for me.
8. I'm afraid that this person may abandon me.
9. I worry that this person won't care about me as much as I care about him or her.

Instructions used for each relationship domain

A. Please answer the following questions about your mother or a mother-like figure.
B. Please answer the following questions about your father or a father-like figure.
C. Please answer the following questions about your dating or marital partner. Note: If you are not currently in a dating or marital relationship with someone, answer these questions with respect to a former partner or a relationship that you would like to have with someone.
D. Please answer the following questions about your best friend.
Example of a formatted RS questionnaires

Items that can be copied and pasted.
An on-line, self-scoring version of the measure.

Translations

I will post links to translations as they come to my attention. If you are interested in translating the ECR-RS from English to another language, please feel free to do so. If you'd like your tranlation linked here, please contact me via e-mail.

Danish - Dagmar Feddern
Italian - Thomas Hünefeldt
Portuguese - Helena Moreira
Update on Global/General Attachment - August 2014

We have recently begun supplementing the ECR-RS with an item set that is designed to more explicitly probe people's general attachment styles. We did not want our general measure to be a literal linear combination of the relationship-specific measures because that operation made it difficult to study how general and relationship-specific representations may change together.

The instructions we are currently using to assess "general" or "global" attachment are as follows: "Please read each of the following statements and rate the extent to which you believe each statement best describes your feelings about close relationships in general." We then follow those instructions with 9 items that are similar in theme to those used to assess relationship-specific attachment. (Moreover, they are keyed in a similar way. The first 6 items tap avoidance with the first 4 items reverse keyed; the last 3 items tap anxiety.)

1. It helps to turn to people in times of need.
2. I usually discuss my problems and concerns with others.
3. I talk things over with people.
4. I find it easy to depend on others.
5. I don't feel comfortable opening up to others.
6. I prefer not to show others how I feel deep down.
7. I often worry that other people do not really care for me.
8. I'm afraid that other people may abandon me.
9. I worry that others won't care about me as much as I care about them.