UBC Theses and Dissertations
Examining the relationship between attachment style and resilience during adolescence Sam, Johanna
Introduction: Although research indicates that attachment should theoretically play a critical role in determining how youth mobilize social resources in response to experiences of distress, few researchers have integrated the perspective of attachment styles in studies investigating the development and promotion of resilience in adolescents. Knowledge of the processes underlying the ways and extent to which youth seek support to cope with stressful events may be improved by examining the distribution and stability of specific attachment styles and their relationship with resilience. Objectives: In a representative population of adolescents, the two primary objectives of this study are to: i) Quantify the distribution of attachment styles and their stability over a six (6) month period in a large sample of the general population ; and ii) Examine the relationship between attachment styles and levels of resilience. Methods: The data (n=1038) used for this study was obtained from Waves 6 and 7 of the British Columbia Adolescent Substance Use Survey (BASUS), a prospective cohort study of youth aged 14 to 15 years enrolled in a public secondary schools across British Columbia. Measures included were the Relationship Questionnaire developed by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991), the 14-Item Resilience Scale (RS) developed by Wagnild and Young (1993), and sociodemographic factors (e.g. gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity). Results: At baseline, secure youth made up 46% of the entire Wave 6 sample (n=692). From the 818 youth with insecure attachment styles at Wave 6, forty-four percent (n=346) were fearful, 39% (n=317) were dismissing, and 19% (n=155) were preoccupied. For youth with secure attachment at Wave 6, approximately sixty percent retained the same classification in Wave 7. Findings indicate resiliency was significantly associated with attachment style (p < 0.001) with the resulting average resiliency scores: Secure (79), Fearful (69), Preoccupied (67), and Dismissing (75). Conclusions: These findings suggest the stability of self-reported attachment style fluctuates by attachment style. In particular, secure attachment seeming relatively stable while insecure attachment styles appeared more transitory. The significant relationship with resilience provides support for the integration of attachment style into resilience-based research, intervention and prevention strategies.
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