The Relationships Among Temperament, Attachment and Initial Adjustment to College

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Attachment theory suggests that the nature of the infant's first relationship with its primary caretaker is the foundation of normal development and influences adjustment in various domains throughout the life-span. Temperament research also indicates a relationship between temperament attributes and adaptation to change. The research in attachment and temperament has primarily focused on young children and adolescents. This research project sought to investigate the relationship of the constructs of attachment and temperament with initial adjustment to· college. A total sample of 261 first semester college freshmen from two college/universities completed a series of questionnaires. The questionnaires included indices of students' perception of past attachment relationships (Parental Bonding Instrument; Parker, Tupling, & Brown, 1979), temperament profile (Revised Dimensions of Temperament Survey; (Windle & Lerner, 1986) and adjustment to college (Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire; Baker & Siryk, 198 6 ); Perceived Social Support Scale- Friends; Procidano & Heller, 1983). Through multiple regression analyses, results indicated that temperament (positive mood, low distractibility, and rhythmicity/ positive mood flexibility, rhythmicity-eating and persistence) correlated with attachment (care/low overprotection). Temperament was found to correlate with the five areas of adjustment (academic: distractibility, flexibility, activity level-general, rhythmicity-daily habits, persistence; social: approach, mood, flexibility, persistence; personal/emotional: flexibility; rhythmicity-eating, activity level-sleep, distractibility; goal attainment: mood flexibility, persistence, approach; perceived social support: mood, approach, rhythmicity-eating). Post hoc analyses indicated school and gender differences within specific domains of attachment and adjustment. High school grade point average was best predicted by the temperament dimensions of flexibility, mood, and persistence whereas first semester college grade point average was best predicted by the low distractibility, rhythmicity-sleep and activity level-sleep. For the relationship of attachment to college adjustment, care was the most significant predictor for the five aspects of adjustment. The results of this research are supportive of the earlier work with children and adolescents and validates that attachment and temperament are influential variables in adjustment during the life-span.