Implications of Experiencing Parental Divorce in Childhood on Later Adult Attachment

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Land, Audrey
Developmental Psychology
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Attachment theory explores the working models that are developed early in childhood between parents and infant, and how these models manifest in adulthood in attachment relationships. When this attachment relationship is impacted by an event such as divorce, repercussions often manifest themselves in later years. An assumption behind attachment theory is that the quality of attachment a child experiences affects their adult ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Because divorce often acts as a negative experience in the lives of children and adolescents, it likely plays a role in the child’s later ability to form secure attachments in adulthood. The purpose of this study is to explore the implications that divorce can have on later attachment relationships. Specifically, this study will investigate if individuals who experienced the divorce of their parents in childhood are more likely to have instances of insecure attachment in adulthood. This study will consist of 100 Dominican University of California students, recruited from psychology classes and from Dominican affiliated Facebook pages. Participants will be given a link to a SurveyMonkey questionnaire composed of the Experiences in Close Relationships -Relationship Structures which will assess individual attachment in regard to their relationship with their maternal figure, their paternal figure, and their romantic partner (Fraley, Heffernan & Vicary, 2011), the Painful Feelings About Divorce scale which will measure the individuals feelings of loss and abandonment, as well as their ability to see life through a different filter because of the divorce (Laumann-Billings, & Emery, 2000), and finally demographic questions about the participant’s age, gender, and details about their parent’s divorce. It is hypothesized that a) individuals who experienced divorce will have higher avoidance and anxiety scores than those whose parents did not divorce, b) children who experienced divorce later in childhood will have higher avoidance and anxiety scores than children who experienced divorce earlier in childhood and c) individuals who describe their parents’ divorce as traumatic are more likely to experience insecure attachment. Data collection for this study will occur in February and March of 2016.