Safe passage for attachment systems: Can attachment security at international schools be measured, and is it at risk?

Douglas Ota

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Relocations challenge attachment networks. Regardless of whether a person moves or is moved away from, relocation produces separation and loss. When such losses are repeatedly experienced without being adequately processed, a defensive shutting down of the attachment system could result, particularly when such experiences occur during or across the developmental years. At schools with substantial turnover, this possibility could be shaping youth in ways that compromise attachment security and young people’s willingness or ability to develop and maintain deep long-term relationships. Given the well-documented associations between attachment security, social support, and long-term physical and mental health, the hypothesis that mobility could erode attachment and relational health warrants exploration. International schools are logical settings to test such a hypothesis, given their frequently high turnover without confounding factors (e.g. war trauma or refugee experiences). In addition, repeated experiences of separation and loss in international school settings would seem likely to create mental associations for the young people involved regarding how they and others tend to respond to such situations in such settings, raising the possibility that people at such schools, or even the school itself, could collectively be represented as an attachment figure. Questions like these have received scant attention in the literature. They warrant consideration because of their potential to shape young people’s most general convictions regarding attachment, which could, in turn, have implications for young people’s ability to experience meaning in their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • van IJzendoorn, Marinus, Supervisor
  • Prinzie, Peter, Supervisor
  • Jongerling, Joran, Co-supervisor
Award date24 Jan 2024
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-94-6483-737-7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2024

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