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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perceived congruent and incongruent attachment to parents and adolescent sex motives Balter, Alice-Simone


Sexual motivations are one of the underlying psychosocial factors which influence sexual expression. Individuals are sexually motivated for a variety of reasons. For example, some may engage in sexual activity for intimacy needs, while others may behave sexually to increase self-confidence. Understanding sexual motivations becomes particularly important during adolescence, as motivations are likely to guide socio-sexual development during subsequent years of adulthood. Attachment theory explains that diverse motivations are cultivated as a result of attachment styles. Existing research uses the adult-adult attachment model to assess sex motives. This thesis extends previous research (e.g. Schachner, D.A. & Shaver, P.R., 2004) by analyzing the link between parent-adolescent attachments and sex motives. More specifically, this research addresses the question of whether adolescents' perceived congruent and incongruent attachment styles to parents are related to five sex motives: intimacy, enhancement, self-affirmation, peer and partner approval sex motives. The "incomplete buffering hypothesis" (Verschueren & Marcoen, 1999, p. 185) guides hypotheses concerning incongruent attachment styles. The incomplete buffering hypothesis refers to the partial averaging of incongruent attachments. The combination of one secure attachment to one parent buffers the effects of an insecure attachment to the other parent. Two hundred and forty-four adolescents from a Vancouver secondary school were administered the Sex Motives Scale (SMS; Cooper, Powers, & Shaprio, 1998), five additional sex motive items (Schachner & Shaver, 2004) and the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire (AAQ; West, Rose, Spreng, Sheldon-Keller, & Adam, 1998). Cluster analyses did not produce theoretically justifiable preoccupied classifications. Given that the preoccupied group could not be included in ANOVA models; post hoc analyses enabled further exploration between the relationship of adolescents' perceived maternal and paternal attachment security and sex motives by means of Ordinary Least Square (OLS) hierarchical regressions. Findings from ANOVA tests indicate that adolescents' perceived attachments to parents were significantly related to their intimacy and self-affirmation sex motives, where the latter generally supports the buffering hypothesis. Results from post hoc analyses indicate interaction effects between maternal and paternal attachment security on intimacy and enhancement sex motives, and a main effect between paternal attachment and self-affirmation sex motives. T-tests found adolescent males score significantly higher than adolescent females on enhancement and peer approval sex motives. Both ANOVA and regression analysis found unexpected findings where males score higher on self-affirmation sex motives than females. The results are discussed in regards to the theoretical implications of multiple attachment organizations as well as the practical implications for adolescent sexual health.

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