Attachment to Parents, Social Anxiety, and Close Relationships of Female Students over the Transition to College

Abstract

The current study examined the process by which attachment to parents influences satisfaction with and ease in forming friendships at college. One hundred seventy-two female college freshmen completed a measure of parental attachment security the summer before their first semester of college (July 2006) and measures to assess satisfaction with and ease in forming close relationships at the end of their first semester (December 2006). Students ranged in age from 18 to 20 years (M = 18.09, SD = 0.33) and were diverse in their racial makeup (30% racial minority). Consistent with predictions derived from attachment theory, secure attachment to parents was positively associated with ease in forming friendships among racial minority and white participants and satisfaction with friendships among minority participants. Moreover, indirect effects of parental attachment security on relationship outcomes through social anxiety were significant for minority participants but not for white participants. Findings may be useful in the development of retention programs targeted at incoming university freshmen, particularly minority students.

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Acknowledgments

This manuscript is based on the first author’s master’s thesis. Special thanks are extended to Anne Fletcher and Andrew Supple for their guidance and feedback on previous versions of the manuscript and to Kristopher Preacher for his consultation and feedback on statistical methods. Finally, we are grateful to the undergraduate students who graciously gave their time to participate in the study.

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Correspondence to Stephanie H. Parade.

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Parade, S.H., Leerkes, E.M. & Blankson, A.N. Attachment to Parents, Social Anxiety, and Close Relationships of Female Students over the Transition to College. J Youth Adolescence 39, 127–137 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9396-x

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Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Friendship
  • Social anxiety
  • College