Separation anxiety and adjustment to college: an attachment-theoretical perspective
Lease, Cynthia A.
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The relationships between working models of attachment and adjustment to college among first-year college students was examined in a longitudinal study. The results of this study indicated that when college students were classified as secure, dismissing, or preoccupied by the Adult Attachment Interview, significant differences emerged in their experience of separation anxiety, self-perceived competence, perceptions of relationships, and attachment-related behaviors. Over half of the secure group reported clinical levels of separation anxiety at the beginning of the academic year, however, they showed a significant decline in symptomatolgy over time indicating adaptive resolution of the distress associated with the developmental task of emancipating from home. All but one member of the preoccupied group had clinical levels of separation anxiety at the beginning of the year, and although they reported some decline in symptomatology over time l decrease in the number of symptoms did not reach statistical significance. The preoccupied group reported having the most people upon whom they could rely for support, and they went home more often than the other two groups. However, they were the least satisfied with the support they received. As predicted, separation anxiety was not prevalent in the dismissing group at any point in time. This group also reported the least number of people upon whom they could rely for support, but they perceived themselves as more socially competent than the secure or preoccupied groups. Finally, the dismissing group showed a significant increase in utilization of university health services across time. These findings lend support to the idea that working models of attachment are associated with differing approaches to affect regulation in situational and developmental contexts that elicit distress. Overall, the results of the present study provide evidence that attachment is associated with social-emotional adjustment during the course of the adolescent's emancipation from home and entry into college.
- Doctoral Dissertations