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Title: Attachment-system activation in young offenders using a mental simulation task
Author: Mathews, Sorcha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 9299
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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There has been a call for research that investigates the adaptive attachment styles of young people who enter into the criminal justice system (Casswell et al., 2012) as a means to understand their problematic behaviour and risk to mental health issues. There has also been a call for further measures of attachment working models (Pietromonaco & Barrett, 2000) but little investigation into how to operationalise this. This study was a cross-sectional within-participants design that examined the reliability of using a mental simulation task (Huddy et al., 2012) to explore individual differences in attachment styles, as measured by the Psychosis Attachment Measure (PAM; Berry et al., 2006) in a young male offender population (n=55) who were incarcerated. Negative life events from infancy to young adulthood have been shown to increase the likelihood of individuals developing and maintaining an insecure attachment pattern (Hamilton, 2000) as well as increasing the likelihood of an individual attachment pattern changing from a secure to an insecure style (Waters, Weinfield & Hamilton, 2000). As such, participants’ experience of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was also explored as a means to triangulate the findings on the PAM and mental simulation task. To our knowledge, this was the first time these factors have been examined together in this population. Non-parametric correlations revealed a significant relationship between attachment anxiety, but not attachment avoidance, and both negative and positive intent. No relationship was found between distress ratings and either attachment anxiety or avoidance. Higher incidents of ACEs was found to be associated to attachment avoidance and to negative intent ratings but not to attachment anxiety. The results do not support the use of the mental simulation task as a measure of internal working models of attachment; limitations of the study and its implications in relation to attachment theory and clinical work with young offenders are discussed.
Supervisor: Huddy, Vyvyan Charles ; Valmaggia, Lucia Rita Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available