The Influence of Attachment on First-Year College Student Success.
The Influence of Attachment on First-Year College Student Success Robert M. Kurland, M.A. and Harold I. Siegel, Ph.D. Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ Introduction Methods Results Discussion Attachment and Transition Participants Attachment and Academic Success AcademicsDuring major life transitions, individuals are met with Participants were undergraduate students at Individuals who were high in attachment anxiety Consistent with our hypothesis as well as withnew social and psychological challenges and Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey (N=85). performed worse academically in college as compared previous research, attachment patterns are related tostressors that need to be traversed (Bucx & Van Approximately 25% were male and 75% were to high school (r = -.312, p = .007). academic success during the transition to college.Wel , 2008). It is at these times that one’s attachment females. The sample was comprised of individuals Research has shown that securely attachedpattern may play an important role in these belonging to various races and ethnicities including individuals maintain higher feelings of competence ontransitions. Hispanic (25.9%), Caucasian (21.2%), Asian academic tasks, preoccupied students show more Adult Attachment (23.5%), African-American (9.4%), Asian - Pacific anxiety about academic performance, and dismissiveThere are two dimensions of attachment; anxiety Rim (8.2%), Middle Eastern (4.7%), and individuals students are less organized and unfocused as itrelated to worry about being abandoned or rejected who classified themselves as other (7.1%). pertained to academic studies (Aspelmeier & Kerns,and avoidance that is related to one’s comfort with 2003). Methodsemotional closeness. (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, Procedure Ethics1998). E-mails were sent to 800 incoming freshmen who Consistent with our hypothesis, students who were had registered university e-mail addresses. high in attachment anxiety were more likely to say Attachment and Ethical Success Students were invited to participate in the survey. that they would engage in unethical behavior. These Students who scored high on attachment anxiety were Each participant was asked to complete a individuals may feel pressure to succeed to make more willing to cheat to get a good grade (r = .406, p = . questionnaire. The entire survey took their parents proud and therefore may be more willing 000) and more willing to cheat to help a friend (r = .298, approximately 30 minutes to complete. to cheat to do so. In addition more anxious students p = .008) tend to seek the approval of others and thus may be Materials more willing to cheat to help another friend as they College Student Success The participants completed surveys including: would believe that it would strengthen theirUniversity life offers students a social environment in demographic questions, the Relationship relationships.which they will be able to experience intellectual, Structure (RS) questionnaire (Fraley, Niedenthal, Psychological Healthmoral, and social-emotional exploration and as such, Marks, Brumbaugh, & Vicary, 2006) which is used The results of this study provide support that athere are a number of new experiences that a to measure avoidance and anxiety of attachment, relationship exists between attachment andstudent will need to face including psychological, the four paragraph relationship questionnaire psychological health during the transition to college.ethical, and academic (Reich & Siegel, 2002). (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991), a 7-point Likert Insecurely attached students report higher levels of questionaire regarding ethical behavior (e.g., how Attachment and Psychological Success anxiety and depression during their freshman year. Attachment and College Student Success During willing would you be to cheat to help a friend, how •Students who were high on attachment anxiety scored These indices may place the insecure students at a the Transition to College willing would you be to cheat to get a good lower on self-esteem (r = -.427, p = .000). disadvantage as they progress through college.Secure individuals, those with lower levels of anxiety grade), Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (Beck, Epstein, •Students who were high in attachment avoidanceand avoidance, are better prepared for academic Brown, & Steer, 1988), Beck’s Depression and/or attachment anxiety scored lower on their Future Research(Aspelmeier & Kerns, 2003; Larose, Bernier, & Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & academic locus of control (r = -.397, p = .001) & (r = •Future research will examine students’ academicTarabulsy, 2005; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007), Erbaugh, 1961), Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale -.310, p = .008), respectively. progress after the first semester and track thepsychological (Frey, Beesley, & Miller, 2006; Muris, (Rosenberg, 1965), and the Academic Locus of •Securely attached individuals were less anxious students through a longitudinal study and to observeMayer, & Meesters, 2000; Wei, Russell, & Zakalik, Control Scale (Trice, 1985). Additionally, t (1,64) = 2.383, p = .020 and less depressed other measures of academic success.2005), and ethical (Albert & Horowitz, 2010; participants were asked to give permission to the t (1,60)= -1.693, p = .096 than insecures •As there is little research on attachment and ethicalMikulincer & Goodman, 2006; Van Ijzendoorn & experimenter to allow access to the participants Attachment Security and Anxiety and Depression behaviors in college, future studies will look atZwart-Woudstra, 1995) challenges that they will academic record (including GPA, credits 45 relationships between attachment and unethicalencounter. Hypothesis attempted/earned, choice of major, high school G.P.A., and SAT scores. 40 * academic college behavior (e.g., cheating, 35 plagiarism).Students’ attachment patterns will influence their secureacademic, psychological, and ethical success during 30 insecuretheir transition to college. 25 20 15 anxiety depression