Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Marilyn T. Erickson


Attachment relationships between children and their primary caretakers have been hypothesized to contribute to internal working models of subsequent relationships with others. Poor attachment might lead to internal working models which devalue later relationships, making the perpetration of violence against others more likely. One focus of this study was to propose a model which combined parental bonding, adolescent attachment, and perceived family support to predict the severity of violence used against others by adolescent delinquents. A second focus was to test the proposed model in predicting the total number of violent offenses committed by adolescent delinquents. One hundred and forty-five male adolescents, who had been convicted of at least one violent crime against another person, were tested using three instruments; (1) the Parental Bonding Instrument, (2) the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire, and (3) the Perceived Social Support Scale - Family. It was hypothesized that higher bonding, attachment, and family support scores would be negatively correlated with Severity of Crime. It was also hypothesized that the proposed model would account for a greater proportion of the variance for Severity of Crime than for Total Number of Violent Crimes. Partial support for the first hypothesis was found. The results of hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the model accounted for twice the variance for Severity of Crime than for Total Number of Violent Crimes. The model also gained statistical significance for Severity of Violence, but not for Total Number of Violent Crimes. It appears that attachment may play some role in the severity of violence used against others, but does not appear to have a significant impact on the number of violent crimes committed. Possible family dynamics in this population and study methodology issues are discussed which might have accounted for the lack of stronger results.


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