Intersections with Attachment

By Jacob L. Gewirtz; William M. Kurtines | Go to book overview

attachment tends to foster a liberal political attitude, or liberals make sharper distinction in their feelings towards their parents than do conservatives, or some third factor is mediating this difference in correlations cannot be ascertained from the present data. Liberals, incidentally, are the only subgroup to manifest a significant correlation between nationalism and attachment to the father, the correlation with current attachment to the father being .38 for liberals in comparison to .16 for conservatives. This difference may be a consequence of the greater association between nationalism and patriotism displayed by liberals as compared to conservatives, the respective correlations being .65 and .39.


CONCLUSIONS

To summarize these findings bearing on the relationship between attachment and indices of patriotism, nationalism, and internationalism, reports of both early and current attachment to the father are significantly correlated with patriotic feelings. Although there are some suggestions of a relationship between attachment to the father and nationalism in some populations, a positive relationship between father attachment and patriotism is consistently found. There are many features of the data that indicate that father attachment has different functional consequences than attachment to the mother. Early maternal attachment is unrelated to patriotism but is significantly inversely related to internationalism and proworld government attitudes, young adults reporting greater early maternal attachment tending to manifest more negative attitudes towards internationalism and world government than those reporting weaker early maternal attachment.

What is it about attachment to the father that may foster strong patriotic feelings, whereas attachment to the mother is unrelated to patriotic attitudes? In initiating this study, it was proposed that the reinforcements associated with early attachment to one's parents or caregivers would be replicated or vicariously experienced in subsequent attachment relationships with one's nation. However, this proposition appears to hold only for father attachment, perhaps indirectly holding for mother attachment in the inverse relationship obtained between mother attachment and internationalist and world government attitudes. What might it be about the attachment relationship to the father that makes that relationship uniquely correlated with patriotic impulses? The results of an item analysis in which the early father attachment scale was correlated with each of the items comprising the patriotism and nationalism scales suggests one possible response to this question. The item on the patriotism scale with the highest correlation (.37) reads as follows: "I feel a great pride in that land that is our America." Also correlating relatively highly are the items "I am proud to be an American" and the inversely scored item "It bothers me to see children made to pledge allegiance to the flag or sing the national anthem or otherwise induced to adopt such strong patriotic attitudes." These items all reflect the affect of pride in

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