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The relationship of attachment style, family structure, and separation -individuation for late adolescents

Amanda Duffy Randall, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The relationship among the styles of attachment, the structure and function of the family, and the developmental task of separation-individuation for the late adolescent was the focus for this exploratory study. Despite the escalating numbers of families that experience parental separation, divorce, and remarriage, the impact of these family transitions upon the adolescent in relation to the separation-individuation process has not been determined as compared to adolescents from intact family structures. ^ This study examined a non-clinical population to investigate the incidence of different attachment styles in the population, the distribution of attachment styles by family structure (organization) and by family type (function) and the effects of attachment style and family structure and family type on the separation-individuation process. The population consisted of 323 university students from two campuses of a Midwestern university. A majority of participants had secure attachment styles in the relationship with mothers (92.7%) and with fathers (80.3%), with anxious attachment style to mothers found in 6.7% and 13.5% to fathers, and insecure attachment style found to mothers in 6.1%, and to fathers in 6.1% of participants. The majority of participants exhibited secure attachment styles in the relationships with mothers and fathers. While small numbers of participants fell into the anxiously attached relationship style, and even smaller numbers were identified as having an insecure attachment style, the use of the instruments and the nature of the distribution suggests that the results in these categories may be unreliable. The majority of participants from intact family structures (73%) limited the diversity among participants, although participants from intact and remarried families experienced fewer problems in the separation-individuation process than participants from transitioned family structures. ^

Subject Area

Education, Guidance and Counseling|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Randall, Amanda Duffy, "The relationship of attachment style, family structure, and separation -individuation for late adolescents" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3055287.