The Moderating Effects of Attachment Style on Students' Experience of a Transition to University Group Facilitation Program

By Ames, Megan E.; Pratt, Michael W. et al. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, January 2011 | Go to article overview

The Moderating Effects of Attachment Style on Students' Experience of a Transition to University Group Facilitation Program


Ames, Megan E., Pratt, Michael W., Pancer, S. Mark, Wintre, Maxine G., Polivy, Janet, Birnie-Lefcovitch, Shelly, Adams, Gerald, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


This study investigated how attachment style predicted first-year students' responses to a transition to university group facilitation program. Participants (N = 148) at three universities were randomly assigned to a control or facilitation group. Each group consisted of on average six first-year students and two facilitators who met weekly for nine weeks at the beginning of the first semester to discuss issues relevant to the transition to university. Attachment styles (preoccupied, secure, dismissing, and fearful), feelings toward group experiences, and adjustment were assessed by questionnaire at the end of the program in November and again in March. Results indicated that, as hypothesised, dismissing style scores were generally negatively correlated with student attendance and feelings toward the group. Secure style ratings tended to be positively correlated with reports of group feelings. Adjustment measures collected in March indicated a potential buffering effect of the facilitation program for the preoccupied students in that the preoccupied students in the control group indicated more depression and loneliness, plus poorer adjustment to university, than the preoccupied students in the intervention groups. However, all other styles, including the dismissing style, did not show differences between intervention and control groups on subsequent adjustment.

Keywords: attachment style, first-year students, transition to university or college, group experiences, school adjustment

The present study investigates the relationship between firstyear students' participation in a social support group facilitation program and their subsequent adjustment to university as a function of their general attachment style. In adulthood, attachment styles represent how people think about their relationships with others (Bowlby, 1988). Two important research findings about attachment style inform the current study. First, these styles have been linked to students' experience of the transition to university, with students having a secure attachment style generally doing better than those showing an insecure attachment (e.g., Rice, Fitzgerald, Whaley, & Gibbs, 1995). Second, attachment styles also have been shown to moderate peoples' reactions to group settings (Rom & Mikulincer, 2003). More specifically, facilitation groups designed to help students adjust to the new experiences of university have generally been shown to be effective in relieving some of the distress engendered during this transition (e.g., Oppenheimer, 1984; Pancer et al., 2007; Pratt et al., 2000). Taken together, these findings suggest that the experiences of first-year university students participating in facilitation groups may be influenced by attachment style. To explore this more fully, the present study investigates how attachment style moderates student reactions to such group programs.

The Transition to University

Attending university is a major life transition of emerging adulthood, characterized by change and challenge for most incoming students. This transition involves dramatic changes in first-year students' lives: attending larger and more challenging classes, developing new social relationships, and, for some, leaving home, moving into an apartment or dormitory with unfamiliar people and without adult supervision (Shaver, Furman, & Burhmester, 1985). During the transition, students also must modify their previous routines in order to meet the new demands of university life. Although typically considered a positive and exciting time, the transition to university has been found to be quite challenging for some students (Birnie-Lefcovitch, 1998; Fisher & Hood, 1987; Wintre & Yaffe, 2000). Some incoming undergraduate students are at risk of increased levels of depression and stress because of the transition (Wintre & Yaffe, 2000). Cutrona (1982) found that during the transition to university, states of loneliness dramatically increased in first-year students.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Moderating Effects of Attachment Style on Students' Experience of a Transition to University Group Facilitation Program
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.