Parent Development Interview

The Parent Development Interview
(PDI: Aber et al., 1985; PDI-R:Slade et al., 2003) is a 45 item semi-structured clinical interview intended to examine parents’ representations of their children, themselves as parents, and their relationships with their children[1]. Analagous to the AAI (George, Kaplan & Main, 1984), the PDI is intended to assess internal working models of relationships. Unlike the AAI, in which adults are asked about their past relationships with their parents, the PDI elicits representations regarding a current, ongoing, “live” relationship that is still evolving, that of the parent with her or his child. The parent is asked to describe her or his child’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings in various situations, as well as her responses to her or his child in these situations. The parent is also asked to describe him/herself as a parent and to discuss emotions stimulated by the experience of parenting. The interview strives in a number of ways to tap into parents’ understanding of their child’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings, and asks the parents to provide real life examples of charged interpersonal moments: “Describe a time in the last week when you and your child really clicked”, and then “a time when you and your child really didn’t click”. Such questions provide a direct means to evaluate the parent’s understanding of her/his own and her/his child’s internal experience at times of heightened affective arousal.


[1] On the basis of our experience using the PDI in various research settings, we have adapted the interview for use with specific populations, and – in the case of the PDI-R – to enhance its suitability for coding reflective functioning. There is an infancy version, a toddler version, a revised version, and a brief version.