Introduction problem solving and resilience among married couples underlines

Introduction

“Attachment behaviours significantly affect interpersonal relationships from the cradle to the grave” – John Bowlby

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The concepts and theories of adult attachment are reasonably new in the field of psychology. Research in the field of attachment in the earlier part of the century was primarily focused on the development of mother-infant attachment, although in the recent years research has been extensive in applying the same principles to romantic relationships in adults. Studies conducted on attachment styles and their impact on marital relationships has found significant relationship between secure attachment and constructive problem solving in couples. It was reported by Kobak and Hazan in 1991 that “secure husbands and wives engaged in more constructive problem-solving during observations of marital interaction than insecure spouses”.

Most definitions of resilience feature adaptive, resourceful and innovative enabling responses to adversity, threat or challenge as a core element. Resilience is considered an asset or a desirable characteristic that is likely to impact positively on aspects of an individual’s performance, achievement, health, and wellbeing (Bartley et al., 2010). Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi in 2000 postulated that “resilience is not just about recovering from stress to reach some state of equilibrium but that it is also the notion of growth through effective problem solving”.  Abiola and Udofia in 2011 also suggest that resilience is associated with increased quality of life, wellbeing and functional capacity in times of adversity. Hence it is clear that resilience may be strongly influenced by individual’s patterns of interpersonal relationships. 

Rationale for the study.  Attachment theory and resilience theory have been explored and researched as two separate bodies of knowledge, although there is clear evidence of relationship between the two constructs. Emphasis on the promotion of positive mental health by the World Health Organisation in 2005, the recognition of resilience and coping as one of eight positive mental health concepts by Parkinson in 2008 and the studies that support the influence of Attachment styles on problem solving and resilience among married couples underlines the value of the current study (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi 2000, Abiola and Udofia 2011).

Significance and scope of the present study. From the above mentioned over view it is evident that attachment styles govern the behavioural tendencies of individuals, thus in the event of crisis or adversity their behaviours are governed by their predisposed style of attachment. It is also important to note that the outcome of the situation is dependent on their level of resilience. Thus the study of the relationship between attachment styles on resilience provides valuable insight to the field of family counselling and therapy to better equip individuals deal with adversity and in the event of crisis (Rutter 1999). The absence of published literature in India exploring the relationship between attachment styles and resilience is compelling reasons to conduct this study. The current study explores the difference in attachment styles and resilience among married individuals and unmarried individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship.

Review of Literature

The Theory of Attachment

 The notion of attachment is based on Bowlby’s interpretation of children’s reactions to separations from their primary caregivers. These reactions ranged widely from searching and protest to despair and detachment from the caregiver. He proposed that these severe emotional reactions are a result of a very basic primary goal, namely, “proximity to a caregiver” being blocked. He further postulated that every infant is born with a readiness to activate a system of behaviors whose aim is to keep a caregiver in proximity. The behavioral system  for newborn infants include behaviors as crying, smiling, and cuddling, which prove to be instrumental in keeping the caregiver in proximity and contact. As the newborn child matures, the goal of proximity to an attachment figure and the behavioral repertoire are modified. The goal now becomes the availability of the caregiver rather than her/his mere proximity and the behavioral repertoire becomes richer and includes such behaviors as walking, holding, talking. Ainsworth in 1989 observed that attachment behavior that is initially directed towards the primary caregivers can be observed in other relationships which are intimate and important to the individual throughout the life cycle. A direct application of attachment related notions to adult intimate relationships was attempted by Shaver, Hazan, and Bradshaw in 1988. They suggested that since the specific patterns of attachment are the primary socially relevant behavioral system which is learned and becomes internalized, it lays foundations for other intimate relationships as well. Thus, the two different attachment styles were thought to be manifested in different patterns of adult relationships. They were secure attachment and insecure attachment. Brennan’s findings suggested that there are two fundamental dimensions with respect to adult attachment patterns. They are secure attachment and insecure attachment styles. They further theorized two critical variables that caused insecure attachment in adults. One critical variable has been labeled attachment-related anxiety. People who score high on this variable tend to worry whether their partner is available, responsive, attentive, etc. People who score on the low end of this variable are more secure in the perceived responsiveness of their partners. The other critical variable is called attachment-related avoidance. People on the high end of this dimension prefer not to rely on others or open up to others. People on the low end of this dimension are more comfortable being intimate with others and are more secure depending upon and having others depend upon them. A prototypical secure adult is low on both of these dimensions.

The Theory of resilience

Michael Ungar in 2005 defined resilience as, “more than an individual set of characteristics. It is the structures around the individual, the services the individual receives, the way health knowledge is generated, all of which combine with characteristics of individuals that allow them to overcome the adversity they face and chart pathways to resilience”. He further emphasized the features that are present in the individual and the environment that lead to resilience. He termed these factors “tensions of resilience” These include:

Access to material resources – availability of financial, educational, medical and employment assistance and/or opportunities, as well as access to food, clothing, and shelter

Relationships – relationships with significant others, peers and adults within one’s family and community

Identity – personal and collective sense of purpose, self-appraisal of strengths and weaknesses, aspirations, beliefs and values, including spiritual and religious identification

Power and control – experiences of caring for one’s self and others; the ability to affect change in one’s social and physical environment in order to access health resources

Social justice – experience related to finding a meaningful role in community and social equality

Cultural adherence – adherences to one’s local and/or global cultural practices, values and beliefs

Cohesion – balancing one’s personal interests with a sense of responsibility to the greater good; feeling a part of something larger than one’s self, socially and spiritually.

He explained that resolving the seven tensions is governed by four principles. First, individuals can only select from the health resources they have available – the principle of navigation. Second, they will choose health resources from those that are available and most likely to influence positively mental and physical health related outcomes as determined by their culture and context – the principle of negotiation. Third, the way they relate one aspect of resilience to another will reflect convergence in how they behave across cultures – the principle of homogeneity. And fourth, relationships between aspects of resilience will express diversity within and between populations – the principle of heterogeneity.

A study by Hazan and Shaver in 1987 explored the possibility that romantic love is an attachment process similar to the biosocial process by which affectional bonds are formed between adult lovers, just as affectional bonds are formed earlier in life between human infants and their parents.  The sample consisted of 753 adults who were given terms appropriate to adult romantic love translated from inferences as explained by Bowlby, Ainsworth, and others to explain the development of affectional bonds in infancy. The translations centred on three major styles of attachment found in infancy- secure, avoidant, and anxious. The sample was asked to mark the terms that best described their attachment style and was factor analysed.  The results showed that the groping hung in three categories namely – secure, avoidant and anxious styles of attachment. They further theorized that adult romantic feelings can be viewed as an affective bond comparable to that seen between infants and their primary caregivers in their research they not only developed a measure to classify adults into secure, avoidant, and anxious groups, but they also documented differences between avoidant, secure, and anxious respondents’ love relationships, their beliefs about self and others in these relationships, and recollections of their family relationships in childhood.

A study that supports the influence of style of couples attachment in their the quality of marital relationship, was done by Kobak and Hazan in 1991. The study explored the general satisfaction and functioning of 40 married couples over three months. Their attachment styles were determined using a self report measure. Significant associations were found between attachment security and both the husbands’ and wives’ marital satisfaction. Secure husbands and wives were seen to engage in more constructive problem-solving during observations of marital interaction than did insecure spouses.

Annemiek Karreman and Ad J.J.M.Vingerhoets, conducted a study to obtain better insight into the associations between attachment styles and psychological well-being, by testing the possible mediating roles of emotion regulation and resilience. Results revealed unique relationships with emotion regulation and resilience for each attachment style, explaining connections with well-being. Secure attachment was associated with higher reappraisal and resilience, partly mediating the effect on well-being. Complete mediation was found for dismissing attachment via higher reappraisal and resilience, and for preoccupied attachment via lower reappraisal and resilience. Fearful attachment had indirect positive effects on well-being through higher reappraisal and resilience. Suppression failed to function as a mediator between attachment and well-being.

Powers, S. I., Pietromonaco, P. R., Gunlicks, M.,  and  Sayer, A. in 2006 studied the Dating couples’ attachment styles and patterns of cortisol reactivity and recovery in response to a relationship conflict. The results indicated that insecurely attached individuals show patterns of greater physiological stress reactions to interpersonal conflict than do securely attached individuals and men with insecurely attached partners show patterns of greater stress in reaction to relationship conflict than those with securely attached partners.

Rutter in 1979 conducted a study focusing on the children of mentally ill parents on the Isle of Wight. Extensive interviews with these children, showed that despite growing up in adverse conditions approximately half of all children in the study experienced positive developmental outcomes and did not become mentally ill or exhibit maladaptive behaviors. He concluded that school environments could act as an important protective factor that buffered children against the adverse effects of stress. He also identified that sporting or musical achievement, holding positions of responsibility in school, developing a good relationship with a teacher or social success among classmates as protective factors contributing to students’ resilience. He classified them as protective factors, which help a person develop resilience against stressful conditions.

A study conducted by Laura Campbell-Sill, Sharon L.Cohan and Murray B.Stein investigated the relationship of resilience to personality traits, coping styles, and psychiatric symptoms in a sample of college students. The results showed that Resilience was negatively associated with neuroticism, and positively related to extraversion and conscientiousness. Coping styles also predicted variance in resilience above and beyond the contributions of these personality traits. Task-oriented coping was positively related to resilience, and mediated the relationship between conscientiousness and resilience. Emotion-oriented coping was associated with low resilience. Finally, resilience was shown to moderate the relationship between a form of childhood maltreatment (emotional neglect) and current psychiatric symptoms.

Conceptual Framework

            The nature of attachment style that an individual has towards their significant other can be either of two types. Secure attachment and insecure attachment. A person is said to have secure attachment towards their romantic partner when their anxious attachment level and avoidant attachment level are low. This in turn may affect their ability to cope with adversity, or otherwise known as resilience.

 

 

 

The two variables, Adult attachment styles and Resilience have been widely researched independently. Although their relation to each other have been explored rather scarcely. Exploring this proves essential in psychology, particularly in the field of family therapy and counselling to help individual’s better cope with adversity. Further the findings of the study will be comparatively new in the field of psychological research and provides us with in-depth understanding of individual behaviour towards attachment figures.

Research Questions

1.     Is there a difference in the attachment styles and resilience among married individuals and unmarried individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship?

2.     Is there a difference in attachment style between married individuals and unmarried individuals in a romantic relationship?

3.     Is there a difference in resilience between married individuals and unmarried individuals in a romantic relationship?

4.     Is there a gender difference in attachment style among couples?

5.     Is there a gender difference in resilience among couples?

Aim

To study the difference in attachment styles and its effects on resilience among married individuals and unmarried individuals involved in a romantic relationship.

Specific Objectives

1.     To explore the attachment styles and its effect on resilience among married individuals.

2.     To explore the attachment styles and its effect on resilience among unmarried individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship

3.     To explore the difference in attachment styles based on individuals relationship status

4.     To explore the difference in resilience based on individuals relationship status

5.     To explore the gender difference in attachment styles of couples

6.     To explore the gender difference in resilience of couples

Hypothesis

1.     There is no significant relationship between the attachment style and its effect on resilience among married individuals.

2.     There is no significant relationship between the attachment style and its effect on resilience among unmarried who are involved in a romantic relationship

3.     There is no difference in attachment style based on relationship status

4.     There is no difference in resilience based on relationship status

5.     There is no gender difference in attachment styles of couples

6.     There is no gender difference in resilience of couples

Methodology

            The current study is a Quasi-Experimental research. Correlation will be used to determine the relationship between the variables in the target population. The variables in the present study are as below.

Independent Variable: Adult Attachment Style, Relationship Status, Gender

            Dependent variable: Resilience

Operational Definitions:

Attachment – Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. 

Resilience – It is the phenomenon of an individual successfully overcoming stress or adversity that is caused by psychosocial factors.

Relationship Status – for the purpose of this study, two types of relationship status are defined.

a.       Married individuals are those who are legally related to another individual under the confines of marriage.

b.     Unmarried individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship with another person are those who are dating or in courtship with another person, with mutual feelings of love and affection.

Gender – for the purpose of this study, two genders are defined

c.      Male – individuals who biologically possess male genitals and psychologically identify as Men

d.     Female – individuals who biologically possess female genetals and psychologically identify ad Women

            The population is inclusive of all couples in India who are mutually involved in a romantic relationship with or without the confines of a marriage. For the purpose of research a combination of convenience and purposive method of collecting data will be employed with a sample of 200 individuals.

            Inclusion criteria:

1.     Individuals who have been in courtship or have been dating for over 6 months.

2.     Individuals who have been married for over a month.

3.     Individuals currently residing in India

Exclusion criteria:

1.     Individuals who are involved in a homosexual relationship

2.     Individuals who are: married but separated, widowed and divorced.

3.     Women below the age of 18

4.     Men below the age of 21

Tools:

1.     Socio Demographic sheet.

2.     Informed consent form

3.     Experiences in Close Relationship Scale-Short Form (ECR-S) – Developed by Meifen Wei, Daniel W. Russell, Brent Mallinckrodt and David L. Vogel in 2007

4.      Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) – Developed by Bruce W. Smith, Jeanne Dalen, Kathryn Wiggins, Erin Tooley, Paulette Christopher, and Jennifer Bernard in 2008.

Data will be collected in both online and offline format. Online data collection will be done using Google forms and offline data collection will be done employing the paper-pencil method. Two way ANOVA will be used to explore the relationship between Attachment style and Resilience among married individuals and unmarried individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship. Two sample t-Test will be used to explore the gender difference and difference due to relationship status in the sample. 

            Ethical considerations:

                        The participants of the research will be briefed on their right to withdraw from the research at any time. They will be assured that the data provided by them will be strictly used only for academic and research purposes. Confidentiality on all the information provided by the participants will be assured and informed consent will be taken prior commencement of the data collection.

            Timeline:

Submission of corrected proposal                              23.01.2018

Data Collection                                                          23.01.2018 onwards

Data Analysis                                                             20.02.2018 onwards

Submission of Research Study                                   30.05.2018

Reference

 

Appendix

 

 

Plagiarism Report