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Developmental Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Secondary Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Rodger Narloch, Psychology


This study explored whether professors for young adult college students could serve as caring and trustworthy attachment figures who fostered certain mindsets, perceptions of the self, and academic behaviors. A convenience sample of 89 first-year college students in introductory psychology courses completed an online survey. First, the study sought to replicate the established relationships between students’ achievement goal orientations and curiosity, exploration, self-criticism, and self-reassurance. Then, the study analyzed students’ attachment styles to their First-Year Seminar (FYS) professors in relation to achievement goal orientations to see if attachment style could then predict similar patterns of academic behaviors. Contrary to expectations, results suggest that student-professor attachment styles are not derived from student-parent attachment styles. Regarding academic behaviors, students with high avoidant and anxious attachment to their FYS professors perceive less autonomy support. Specifically, students high in avoidant attachment are more likely to self-criticize, while those high in anxious attachment self-reassure. Overall, students are bringing a unique quality to their professor attachments, and those with stronger avoidant and anxious attachments tend to exhibit greater maladaptive academic behaviors.


Readers: Pam Bacon, Linda Tennison