Attachment as a protective factor: An intra-family design

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

Research literature has indicated that attachment is often identified as the primary protective factor that allows a child to become resilient despite exposure to multiple risk factors. However, the existing body of research on attachment has made near universal use of inter-family research designs. In doing so, much of the existing research has failed to control for numerous variables that may influence the research's outcome(s). Therefore, the purpose of this research is twofold: First is to assess if attachment levels are significantly different in resilient individuals when compared to non-resilient siblings and, secondly, to accomplish this research through the use of an intra-family research design.

This particular study makes use of inmate populations in Minnesota and Wisconsin adult prisons who have met the research criteria for being non-resilient and their siblings who have met the research criteria for being resilient. Non-resilient/resilient siblings were differentiated by the variables of felony criminal record, chemical use and the completion of a traditional, community based high school diploma program. Additionally, sibling pairs were matched along a number of biological and demographic criteria. Ultimately 55 sibling pairs were identified as meeting the research criteria and who also volunteered to serve as the research population.

Once identified, all research subjects completed a series of standardized questionnaires regarding substance use and 4 scales regarding their early childhood attachment experiences. Attachment was measured with regard to mothers, fathers, best friends and other adults.

Data analyses revealed that resilient siblings had significantly more attachment figures in their childhood and that they also had significantly higher levels of attachment to these attachment figures when compared to their non-resilient siblings. These findings supplement existing research on the role played by attachment figures as well as beginning to fill the gap created by inter-family research designs.

These results have numerous implications for both social work practice and policy. Social workers must be mindful about the needs of at risk children. However, being mindful must also include a willingness to advocate for social work practice models and policies that support and augment a child's need for positive early childhood attachment experiences.

Indexing (details)

Social work;
Families & family life;
Personal relationships;
0452: Social work
0628: Families & family life
0628: Personal relationships
0628: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Attachment; Family; Protective factor; Resilience; Siblings
Attachment as a protective factor: An intra-family design
Stacy, Peter David
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496145898, 0496145894
Hollister, C. David
University of Minnesota
University location
United States -- Minnesota
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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