Development of the Family Attachment Scale (FAS)

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INTRODUCTION

Scientifically, attachment refers to relationships that are characterised by the search for and preservation of proximity (Hyland, 2010). The Latin for proximity, “proximare”, means to “draw near” (Collins Concise Dictionary, 2001) and includes emotional, physical and psychological nearness (Neufeld and Maté, 2006). Traditionally, attachment researchers conceptualised attachment as the relationship between a parent and a child that begins in infancy and persists throughout the child’s life, and serves as an “invisible leash” that helps to “keep the child close” (Neufeld et al., 2006, p 65). Bowlby (1980a) describes attachment as the initial emotional bond that forms between an infant and a caregiver, while Ainsworth (1989) states that attachment refers to the quality of the relationships with significant others or a bond with parents. A family is not only a collection of people, but can also be seen as a system in which family interactions occur within the context of subsystems such as spouses, parents and siblings. A family consists of a number of interconnected members whose behaviour (with emotions, actions, thoughts and beliefs) mutually influences each other (Bjarnason, Bendtsen, Arnarsson, Borup, Iannotti, Lofstedt, Haapasalo and Niclasen, 2012; Wagner, 2008).

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

The family remains central in the lives of human beings and can be seen as a cornerstone of society. The structure and content of families vary around the world; however, in South Africa we have unique circumstances that affect family relationships. The South African Institute of Race Relations (Holborn and Eddy, 2011). reported that South African families and youths experience many challenges as families are affected by poverty, unemployment, crime, HIV/AIDS, absent fathers, illiteracy, domestic violence and gender inequities (Green Paper, 2011; Holborn et al., 2011). The South African Institute of Race Relations (Holborn et al., 2011) concludes that “conventional family life” does not exist for many South African children and that a “typical” child is raised by the mother in a single-parent household. In South Africa only a third of children live with their biological parents and nearly a million children have lost both of their parents (Holborn et al., 2011). Violence and conflict (Bowlby, 1984; Baptist, Thompson, Norton, Hardy and Link, 2012), substance abuse (Mallett, Rosenthal and Keys, 2005; Schindler, Thomasius, Sack, Gemeinhardt, Kustner and Eckert, 2005) and divorce (DeFrain and Asay, 2007; Hughes, 2005) are some of the factors that cause familial breakdown. The lack of communication between family members (DeFrain et al., 2007), limited time spent together as a family (DeFrain et al., 2007; Green and Werner, 1996) and the ability to form healthy attachments to significant others are challenges that families face.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The present study introduces a systemic perspective of attachment as opposed to a dyadic perspective. Human beings are social creatures who exist in relation to one another, and therefore attachment relationships within the family unit are an important consideration (Andersson, 2005; Bynner, 2005). A family is not only a collection of people, but can also be seen as a system in which family interactions occur within the context of subsystems such as spouses, parents and siblings. A family consists of a number of interconnected members whose behaviour (with emotions, actions, thoughts and beliefs) mutually influences each other (Andersson, 2005; Bynner, 2005; Fosco and Grych, 2012). A family as a system can thus be regarded as a gestalt where the whole is more than the sum of its parts (Stevenson-Hinde, 1990; Wagner, 2008).

RATIONALE FOR THE PRESENT STUDY

Families form an integral part of society and although not all problems can be explained by family breakdowns and insecure family relationships, a greater focus on family relationships as opposed to dyadic relationships can shed light on the role of parenting. Not only should the role of fathers but also that of siblings be explored in terms of enhancing family relationships that could result in the greater subjective well-being of family members. In my study I propose to develop and measure Neufeld’s concept of family attachment to determine whether the relationship qualities Neufeld propose can be viewed as part of the same construct, which I assume to be family attachment. Further, I will test whether the developed construct of family attachment will possibly predict adolescent well-being. In my reasoning, I view family attachment as the adolescents’ perception of the quality of their relationships with their families and I argue that family attachment contributes to adolescents’ well-being.

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DECLARATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION, BACKGROUND, PROBLEM STATEMENT, RATIONALE AND RESEARCH DESIGN
1.1. INTRODUCTION
1.2. BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
1.3. ASSUMPTIONS IN THE PRESENT STUDY
1.4. PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.5. RATIONALE FOR THE PRESENT STUDY
1.6. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6.1. Primary Research Question
1.6.2. Secondary Research Questions
1.7. METHODOLOGICAL PARADIGM
1.8. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.9. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.9.1. Data collection process
1.9.1.1. Overview of process
1.9.1.2. Qualitative phase
1.9.1.3. Quantitative phase
1.9.2. Exploratory sequential mixed method design
1.9.2.1. Qualitative phase
1.9.2.2. Quantitative phase
1.9.3. Sampling strategy
1.9.3.1. Qualitative phase
1.9.3.2. Quantitative phase
1.9.4. Instruments
1.9.4.1. Family Attachment Instrument
1.9.4.2. Trait Well-Being Inventory (TWBI)
1.9.4.3. Reliability and validity
1.9.5. Data analysis strategies
1.9.5.1. Qualitative phase
1.9.5.2. Principal Component Analysis (PCA)
1.9.5.3. Distribution of scaled scores
1.9.5.4. Correlational analysis.
1.9.5.5. General Linear Model (GLM)
1.10. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.11. CONTRIBUTIONS AND STRENGTHS OF THE STUDY
1.12. KEY CONCEPTS
1.12.1. Family attachment
1.12.1.1. Proximity
1.12.1.2. Sameness
1.12.1.3. Significance
1.12.1.4. Belonging
1.12.1.5. Feeling loved
1.12.1.6. Being known
1.12.2. Family
1.12.3. Adolescents
1.12.4. Well-being
1.13. CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 A THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING ATTACHMENT
2.1. INTRODUCTION
2.2. DEFINING ATTACHMENT
2.3. TRADITIONAL ATTACHMENT THEORY
2.3.1. Bowlby’s Attachment Model
2.3.2. Ainsworth’s Attachment Model
2.3.3. Adult attachment research
2.4. THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK UNDERPINNING THIS STUDY
2.4.1. Overview
2.4.2. Dimensions of Neufeld’s attachment theory
2.4.2.1. Proximity
2.4.2.2. Similarities or sameness
2.4.2.3. Significance
2.4.2.4. Belonging and loyalty
2.4.2.5. Feeling loved
2.4.2.6. Being known
2.5. ATTACHMENT IN FAMILIES
2.5.1. The universality of attachment
2.5.2. Family cohesion
2.5.3. Developmental perspective of attachment
2.6. CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.1. INTRODUCTION
3.2. METHODOLOGICAL PARADIGM: CRITICAL REALISM
3.3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.3.1. Exploratory sequential mixed method design
3.4. SCALE DEVELOPMENT
3.5. DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES
3.5.1. Participant selection and identification
3.5.1.1. Qualitative phase
3.5.1.2. Quantitative phase
3.5.2. Data collection process
3.5.2.1. Qualitative phase
3.5.2.2. Quantitative phase
3.5.3. Instruments
3.5.3.1. Demographic information
3.5.3.2. Family Attachment Scale (FAS)
3.5.3.3. Trait Well-Being Inventory (TWBI)
3.6. DATA ANALYSIS STRATEGIES
3.6.1. Qualitative phase
3.6.2. Quantitative phase
3.6.2.1. Descriptive statistics
3.6.2.2. Factor analysis
3.6.2.3. Reliability and validity
3.7. DISTRIBUTION OF SCALED SCORES
3.8. CORRELATION ANALYSIS.
3.9. GENERAL LINEAR MODEL (GLM)
3.10. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3.10.1. Voluntary participation and informed consent
3.10.2. Privacy, confidentiality and anonymity
3.10.3. Protection from harm and risk
3.11. CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 RESULTS
4.1. INTRODUCTION
4.2. QUALITATIVE PHASE RESULTS (PHASE ONE)
4.3. PILOT STUDY (PHASE TWO).
4.3.1. Construct validity of the FAS
4.3.2. Reliability analysis of the FAS
4.4. THE MAIN STUDY
4.4.1. Participants
4.4.2. Instruments
4.4.2.1. Family Attachment Scale (FAS)
4.4.2.2. Trait Well-Being Inventory (TWBI)
4.4.2.3. Scale distribution of the Family Attachment Scale and the Trait Well-Being Inventory
4.4.2.4. Correlational analysis.
4.4.2.5. General Linear Model procedure (GLM)
4.5. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS, CONTRIBUTIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
5.2. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
5.2.1. Development of the Family Attachment Scale (FAS)
5.2.2. Correlational analysis
5.2.3. Predictive analysis
5.3. DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.3.1. The relational requirements of attachment in a family context
5.3.1.1. The role of belonging in attachment
5.3.2. Relationship between relational requirements and well-being
5.3.3. Family attachment relationships predicting subjective well-being
5.3.3.1. Love and Knowledge predicting subjective well-being
5.3.3.2. Proximity not predicting well-being
5.3.3.3. Similarity not predicting well-being
5.3.3.4. Gender and marital status not predicting well-being
5.4. CONTRIBUTION OF THE PRESENT STUDY
5.4.1. Theoretical contribution
5.4.2. Methodological contribution
5.4.3. Practical contribution
5.5. LIMITATIONS OF THE PRESENT STUDY
5.6. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
5.7. CONCLUSION
LIST OF REFERENCES

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Relational requirements of attachment and the well-being of adolescents in the family

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