According to attachment theory, the propensity of human beings to care for others is governed by an inborn caregiving behavioral system that aims to promote welfare and reduce the distress of other people through effective provision of care. However, some individuals may develop non-optimal caregiving strategies, such as anxious hyperactivation and avoidant deactivation. These two non-optimal caregiving strategies can be evaluated in adults using the Caregiving System Scale (CSS). Recent findings suggested that the factor structure of the instrument may be more complex than was intended. The present work examines in-depth the factor structure of the CSS to provide a clearer understanding of the underlying dimensions. Gender invariance and the contribution of attachment orientations to CSS scores are also examined. Findings reveal that, whereas the CSS-deactivation subscale is unidimensional, the CSS-hyperactivation subscale is better represented by two distinct yet related constructs caregiving-related worries/doubts and intrusive/coercive caregiving. Partial strict gender invariance is supported. The contribution of attachment orientations to non-optimal caregiving strategies is consistent with theoretical expectations. Results and future research directions are discussed in the final section.
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- behavioral systems
- factor analysis
- gender invariance