The influence of weak parental and peer attachment on academic achievement among late adolescent college students

Michael Erik Fass, Florida International University


The current study examined the influence of weak parental and peer attachment on academic achievement among late adolescent college students. In previous research, weak attachment to parents and/or peers had been found to have an adverse influence on the academic success of college students. This study also examined the potential moderating influence of several cognitive and non-cognitive psychosocial variables that might act as protective factors for weakly attached students and, therefore, enhance their academic competence. Data regarding attachment, cognitive variables, and non-cognitive variables were collected using several self-report measures. The multi-ethnic sample of students in this study (n = 357) attended an urban university. Students were classified into one of nine parental-peer attachment groups (e.g., Low-Low, Medium-Medium, High-High). Attachment groups were compared in terms of cognitive and non-cognitive variables. Contrary to the hypothesis, no statistically significant academic achievement differences were revealed for the group of college students who perceived themselves to be weakly attached to both parents and peers. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) identified the High-High group to be significantly different in terms of academic outcome variables from the other eight groups while the Low-Low group had significantly lower levels of non-cognitive variables than several of the other attachment groups. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that cognitive variables accounted for significant amounts of variance in academic outcomes and that several non-cognitive variables were significant predictors of scholastic competence. Correlational analyses revealed that parental and peer attachment were positively correlated with several cognitive and non-cognitive variables but neither was significantly correlated with self-reported college GPA. In general, the findings do not provide support for a main effect of weak attachment to parents and peers upon academic adversity among college students. Results suggest that both cognitive variables and non-cognitive variables may moderate academic risk due to weak attachment to parents and peers. Descriptive within group analyses of the Low-Low group revealed a heterogeneous group of students with regards to academic outcomes and scores on non-cognitive measures. Gender and ethnic differences were found for attachment status but not for cognitive or non-cognitive variables. Implications for interventions and suggestions for future research are presented. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Fass, Michael Erik, "The influence of weak parental and peer attachment on academic achievement among late adolescent college students" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9822983.