Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Attachment Theory and Underage Drinking

Last week, I read a study that examined the connection between underage drinking and attachment theory and theory of planned behavior. This study was conducted at Loyola University and Claremont Graduate University. The researchers began by explaining that secure attachment was fostered specifically through trust, communication and non-alienation. They also explained the theory of planned behavior as a way to “explicate how persuasive forces and motivational beliefs drive intensions and behaviors”. They developed two hypothesis; one through the perspective of secure peer attachment and one through secure maternal attachment. They expected that secure peer attachment would encourage pro-alcohol beliefs because they expected that close peer to peer bonds were achieved through the formation of a collective identity. In contrast, they suggested that a secure maternal attachment would allow the young adult to manage their impulses and not be tempted by alcohol. 

Data was collected in the form of two electronic surveys four weeks apart from 351 student participants ages 18-20. The quality of the participants attachment to their mothers and peers was evaluated through the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment.   

The researches evaluated the data through several perspectives, they considered the indirect effects and constructed a series of tables and charts to interpret the data they collected. They came upon the conclusion that there was a link between secure peer attachment and pro-alcohol perceptions. Secure maternal attachment had an indirect effect on intensions and behaviors. This suggested that the bond between a young adult and mother at a young age reduced the likelihood that the young adult would show problematic tendencies towards alcohol.

In my point of view, this study has many flaws and limitations. I believe it is hard to examine the drinking behaviors of young adults through attachment theory exclusively. The number of factors one must consider when evaluating drinking behaviors are endless. Ultimately, the data that was collected has value and merit to it. I wouldn't, however, rely exclusively on this study to understand the alcohol attitudes, norms and tendencies of young adults.

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