Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Attachment as a Predictor of Friendship Qualities in College Youth

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Attachment as a Predictor of Friendship Qualities in College Youth

Article excerpt

This study examined the relationship between adult attachment style and friendship qualities in a sample of 330 undergraduates using the Adult Attachment Measure (Hazan & Shaver, 1987) and the Friendship Qualities Scale (Bukowski, Hoza, & Boivin, 1994). Results indicated that securely attached individuals showed higher levels of transcending problems in their friendships and lower levels of conflict, while avoidant individuals showed higher levels of conflict and lower levels of companionship. Interactions between attachment style, sex of the participant, and the sex of the friend (same/opposite sex) suggested the combined impact of these variables on specific friendship qualities.

Keywords: attachment style, adult friendship qualities, same and opposite sex friends.

A substantial research literature has addressed the relationship between the quality of early attachment to primary caregivers and adult interpersonal relationships, particularly romantic relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). By contrast, attention has only recently turned towards understanding how attachment styles predict friendships or other nonromantic relationships (Grabill & Kerns, 2000; Kerns & Stevens, 1996), although the warrant for this research has been clearly articulated (Grossmann & Grossmann, 1991; Lieberman, Doyle, & Markiewicz, 1999). Importantly, Lieberman et al. have argued for the importance of investigating attachment relationships among peers, given the increasingly important role that they may play as individuals move into, and through, adolescence. Markiewicz, Doyle, and Brendgen (2001) provide one recent example of work designed to address these peer relationships. Their work demonstrates an important link between attachment style and friendship quality in adolescents, noting that secure attachment predicted the quality of what individuals characterized as their "best friends".

This study extends the findings of Markiewicz et al. (2001) by examining the relationship between attachment style and a range of interpersonal qualities within a mixed-sex sample of late adolescent college students. Like Markiewicz et al. we conceptualized friendship qualities as consisting of several discrete domains outlined by Bukowski, Hoza, and Boivin (1994). These eight friendship qualities consist of companionship, help-aid, help-protection, closeness-affective bond, closeness-reflected appraisal, security-reliable alliance, security-transcending problems, and conflict. Based on conceptual and empirical work within the attachment literature we expected secure attachment to be related to higher levels of perceived companionship, help, closeness, and security within their close friendships, and lower levels of interpersonal conflict.

In addition, the relationship between attachment style and friendship qualities might be expected to vary according to the gender of the individual and his or her friend (e.g., same or opposite sex). For example, Tucker and Anders (1999) reported sex differences in attachment styles, with avoidant women reporting less relationship satisfaction than avoidant men, and anxious men showing less accuracy in their perceptions of their partners' love, faith, and dependability (see also, Matos, Barbosa, Milheiro De Almeida, & Costa, 1999). However, no work to date has explicitly addressed the impact of gender and sex of friend (same or opposite) on the relationship between attachment and friendship qualities, so no specific predictions can be made regarding the interaction of these variables.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS

The participants were 330 undergraduates (218 women and 112 men) recruited from a research pool of undergraduate students (mean age =17.72 years, age range = 17-22). The majority of the participants were White (68.2%), followed by Hispanic (11.6%), African American (9.2%), Asian (6.1%), and other (4.9%).

PROCEDURE

All procedures were conducted in conformity with the APA ethical guidelines. …

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