We report on two longitudinal studies, where we examined how stability and change in attachment to parents and peers from the first to last year of college were associated with changes in theoretically relevant outcomes. As expected, students with consistently secure parental and peer attachment evidenced the best academic, social, and emotional functioning overall. Participants with “stable secure” parental attachment reported significant increases in their academic and emotional functioning and their social competencies; on the other hand, students with consistently low parental attachment showed a decline in their emotional functioning. Participants with stable secure peer attachment also reported lower overall levels of depression and loneliness, better social competence, and more favorable attitudes about help-seeking. Finally, students who transitioned from lower to higher parental attachment showed significant declines in loneliness; those transitioning from low to high peer attachment evidenced a significant increase in social functioning. We discuss implications for how college-based programming might serve to forestall declines in parental/peer attachment and/or facilitate skill building among students who identify with a more insecure style at college entry.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships