Using attachment to carve nature at its joints

Jack C Carney, Tennessee State University


Attachment theory is conceptualized as the universal human need to form close affectional bonds or “a relatively long-enduring tie in which the partner is important as a unique individual and is interchangeable with no other.” Attachment is proposed to be the latent entity that influences all behavior; but because the world is a big and complex system, it is hard to evaluate the influence of attachment as a whole. Therefore, this work attempts to study the role of attachment on self-esteem, risk decision-making and academic success. To evaluate these factors, 300 graduate and undergraduate students were given six questionnaires. These questionnaires were: Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale (RSE; Rosenberg, 1962), the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991), Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994), Intimate Relationships Questionnaire (IRQ; Yesmont, 1992) and a demographic questionnaire. The results demonstrated that self-esteem, achievement, and sexual risk decision-making are moderated by individuals' attachment orientations. A secure attachment was most predictive of a high level of self esteem. Fearful attachment and then preoccupied attachment were inversely proportional to self-esteem. Overall, a secure attachment is most predictive of academic achievement with 7% of the variance of GPA accounted for by attachment. A fearful attachment is most suggestive of an aggressive risk decision-making orientation. The preoccupied attachment was most closely associated with a non-assertive risk decision-making orientation. The secure attachment was most suggestive of an assertive risk decision-making style. Bartholomew and Horowitz's attachment questionnaire could be a valuable pre-screener, as well as useful for case conceptualization and therapeutic interventions. Since Bartholomew and Horowitz's (1991) attachment styles have specific core beliefs, self-structures and now known associations with risk decision-making styles, the counseling psychologist will be in a better position in predicting risk decision-making.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Jack C Carney, "Using attachment to carve nature at its joints" (2005). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3187589.