Interpersonal Reactions to Bereaved Parents: An Exploration of Attachment and Interpersonal Theories
Description: The experiment examined negative social reactions to bereaved parents from unrelated others. Both the behavior displayed by the parent and attachment style of the perceiver were expected to influence reactions to bereaved parents. Undergraduates at a southern university (N = 239) completed both attachment measures and measures of reactions to videotapes of bereaved parents. Results indicated that bereaved parents do indeed receive negative evaluations from unrelated others, in the form of decreased willingness to interact in various roles. However, a nonbereaved parent displaying depressive symptoms also received negative evaluations. Depressed targets in the present study did receive negative evaluations, supporting the predictions of Coyne's interpersonal-process theory of reactions to depressed individuals. Contrary to the predictions of interpersonal-process theory, a bereaved parent displaying loss content without depressive symptoms also elicited negative evaluations. Coyne's hypothesis that the amount of induced negative affect in the perceiver leads to negative evaluations was not supported by the data. Subjects appear to react to a complex set of factors when forming these evaluations, including both personal and situational information. Two factors may have undermined the present study s ability to adequately test this theory. Subjects may have perceived depressive symptoms in loss content in the present study. Further, subjects may not have identified with the parent in the present study as anticipated. Research is necessary to identify the amount and focus of subjects' identifications with depressed and bereaved targets. Only minor support was found for the prediction that attachment style would be related to reactions to bereaved parents. Continuous measures of attachment style were related to amount of induced negative affect. However, grouping subjects by attachment patterns was not related to either induced negative affect or evaluations. The present study and previous research suggest the possibility that conceptually attachment may contain several components which relate to ...
Date: June 1990
Creator: Wilhite, Thomas R. (Thomas Ray)