The association between attachment strategies and risk for stalking

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
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Stalking research has produced considerable information regarding the behavioural topography of stalking (i.e., who does what to whom), however, the dynamics or motivations (i.e., why) of such interactions appear to be less well understood. While researchers have theorized about the association between insecure attachment strategies and stalking behaviour, few studies have directly investigated this association. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the ability to assess attachment strategies in a sample of convicted stalkers as well as the association between attachment strategies and risk for future stalking. Participants (n = 25) on probation for stalking-related offences completed a self-report measure of attachment (RSQ) and an attachment interview (HAI). A stalking risk assessment measure (SAM) was completed through review of participants’ probation files. The majority of participants were primarily categorized with insecure attachment. However, results indicated that while the assessments of attachment in this sample demonstrated moderate interrater reliability, the validity of the attachment measures was questioned due to the high levels of distortion in participants’ responses and the absence of consideration of offence behaviours in interview ratings. Further, the convergent validity between attachment measures was relatively poor. Pearson product moment correlations revealed little to no association between stalkers’ identified attachment strategies and previous stalking behaviour or risk for continued stalking, risk for physical harm, or need for intervention. However, the identification of stalkers’ attachment strategies should provide valuable information for risk management and intervention strategies.
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