Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Marilyn S. Snow

Second Advisor

Linda Keena

Third Advisor

Marc Showalter

Relational Format



This study utilizes tenets of attachment theory to examine how patterns of relating to parental figures vary according to the race and gender of subjects residing in a correctional facility. The study can perhaps influence rehabilitation services within the prison system and modify anti-recidivism programs attended by individuals released from a correctional facility. Second year doctoral students originally collected the data. The participants in the study were given the Adult Scale of Parental Attachment (ASPA) and a general questionnaire in an effort to gather information regarding race, gender, and patterns of relating. The participants were above the age of 18, have been convicted of a crime, and are currently serving time in a prison for that crime. Informed consent forms were attached to the testing material, and issues of confidentiality were addressed verbally. A series of MANOVAs were run to analyze the data that was gathered on the participants. It was found that the Mother Dependent, Father Dependent, and Father Safe variables were significant when looking at the gender of a prison inmate. Further investigation found that the Dependent patterns of relating are lower in males when compared to their female counterparts, and lower for the prison population as a whole when compared to the general population. When investigating the Father Safe subscale of the ASPA, it was found that males report less safety in the relationship with the father figure than the females, and that the prison population perceived a less safe relationship with the father than the general population. The Mother Parentified variable shosignificance when looking at the race of a prison inmate. The Non-White participants displayed a higher degree of parentified feelings when compared to the White/Caucasian group. The prison population shoa higher degree of parentification when compared to the general population. The present study indicates that patterns of relating to the mother and father figure tend to differ according to the race and gender of the inmate surveyed. The study also suggests a need for continued research within the prison population concerning specific ways patterns of relating are differentiated by gender and race.



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