Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Counseling

Date of Defense

12-17-2009

Graduate Advisor

Susan Kashubeck-West, PhD.

Committee

Spilling, Christopher D.

Dr. Cody Ding

Dr. Angela Coker

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that parental divorce and family functioning are associated with children’s socieomotional and psychological adjustment well into their adult years. Research has also demonstrated that sexual attitudes are becoming more liberal (cf., Harding & Jencks, 2003; Leiblum, Wiegel, & Brickle, 2003). The purpose of this research was to examine family functioning and parental divorce status in relation to attachment styles and sexual attitudes among college students (n = 387). The participants completed the Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale (BSAS), The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised Scale (ECR-R), and Family Relationship Index (FRI). As hypothesized, family functioning was a better indicator than divorce status in explaining anxious and avoidant attachment scores. The hypothesis that family functioning would be a better predictor than divorce status in explaining permissive sexual attitudes was not supported. Furthermore, the hypothesis that higher scores on anxious and avoidant attachment scores would be predictive of more permissive sexual attitudes was supported with regard to avoidant attachment styles. Specifically, SPSS data analyses using multiple regressions found that college students who reported greater cohesiveness within their families (regardless of parental divorce status) reported lower anxious and lower avoidant attachment scores. Neither divorce status nor family functioning was predictive of permissive sexual attitudes. However, participants who reported greater avoidant attachment scores also reported endorsing more permissive sexual attitudes scores. Finally, males were more likely than females to endorse permissive sexual attitudes. Limitations and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

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