Date of Degree

9-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Phil Yanos

Committee Members

Ali Khadivi

Elizabeth Jeglic

Philip Erdberg

Louis Schlesinger

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology

Keywords

STALKING, ATTACHMENT, EUPBI, CYBERSTALKING

Abstract

Stalking is an issue that has drawn increasing attention over the past four decades. Approximately 6 million Americans report being the victims of stalking each year. The psychological and physical effects of stalking can be severe, ranging from anxiety and depression to physical harm and even death. With the rise of technology and social media, cyberstalking has become an additional problem in recent years. It is vital to understand the root causes of stalking behavior from a psychological perspective in order to create appropriate management and treatment plans. The current research investigates the role of attachment theory in stalking. Within the field of psychology, there are several different attachment styles, including secure, insecure avoidant, and insecure ambivalent. The central hypothesis guiding this research is that stalking is closely associated with an insecure attachment style. Data was collected from 3 samples (n = 679) to assess the link between stalking behavior and attachment styles. The results indicated that higher rates of cyberstalking are associated with insecure anxious attachment, but not avoidant attachment. This result was seen across each sample and, as hypothesized, the most common type of cyberstalker was an ex-intimate seeking reconciliation. These insecure attachments are formed during childhood and persist into adulthood, which ultimately have the potential to impact the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships. Based on these findings, further research is recommended in the areas of attachment and cyberstalking.

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