Attachment Anxiety, Social Isolation as Correlates of Hopelessness
Abstract on Attachment Anxiety, Social Isolation as Correlates of Hopelessness
The study examined the attachment anxiety and social isolation as correlates to hopelessness.
The study employed the survey design and the purposive sampling technique to select 450 Babcock University Students, Iperu Remo area of Ogun State. A well-constructed questionnaire, which was adjudged valid and reliable, was used for collection of data from the respondents. The data obtained through the administration of the questionnaires was analyzed using the Pearson correlation analysis. The study were analyzed using the descriptive statistics techniques such as tables, percentage, frequency and mean. Furthermore, the Pearson Correlation Analysis was employed to empirically ascertain the degree of relationship between attachment anxiety and social isolation and hopelessness.
The study revealed that there is positive and significant relationship between Social isolation and hopelessness (r=0.772; p<0.05). A positive and significant relationship exists between Attachment anxiety and hopelessness (r=.896; p<0.05). A positive and significant relationship exists between Social isolation and attachment anxiety and hopelessness (r=0.772; p<0.05).
The study concluded that attachment anxiety and social isolation are significantly correlated to hopelessness. The study recommends that: Babcock University managements should let student understand meaning of social isolation among students. Babcock University managements should try to educate the student on how to avoid attachment anxiety that can lead to hopelessness. Babcock University managements should try to educate the student on how to be hopeful among other students attending first year experience scheme. Babcock University departments need an urgent reappraisal. Babcock University departments HOD and lecturers must become contextually relevant to students.
Chapter One of Attachment Anxiety, Social Isolation as Correlates of Hopelessness
Background to the Study
The well-being of human in general, and their hopelessness in particular, are important themes in recent discussions in the Western world. The social integration and participation of human in society are seen as indicators of productive aging, and the alleviation of hopelessness forms part of policies aimed at achieving the goal of ‘successful’ aging. A person’s ability to have close relationships with other people is one of the most important features of a healthy personality. Close relationships influence the personal and social development processes of people considerably. From a perspective of attachment theory, the quality of one’s closest relationships beginning in infancy set the stage for subsequent development. When these relationships are secure, they promote self-reliance, confident exploration of the environment, and resiliency in dealing with life’s stresses and crises (Bowlby, 1979). On the other hand, lack of secure attachment can lead to difficulties in regulating emotions and relating to others, engendering a vulnerability to psychological distress, loneliness and depression (Ouellette & DiPlacido, 2012).
A report by the World Health Organization (World Health Organization, 2014) summarized key risk factors for hopelessness including isolation, relationship conflict or loss, previous suicide attempt, mental disorder, harmful use of alcohol, loss of employment, financial problems, chronic pain, family history of suicide and genetic and biological factors, as well as influences from a wider systemic level such as access to means and the availability of appropriate health care. The report further emphasized that vulnerability to hopelessness is likely to result from the cumulative effect of a number of risk factors.
Hopelessness has featured strongly in psychological theories of suicide. Initially the term was used broadly, to describe generalized negative expectancies about the future and feelings of depression (Menninger, 2005). Later, in an attempt to quantify ‘hopelessness’, a scale was derived and validated. Beck’s ‘Hopelessness Scale’ (Beck, Brown, Berchick, Stewart, & Steer, 2010) is made up of 20 specific measures and incorporates themes including ‘Feelings About the Future’, ‘Loss of Motivation’ and ‘Future Expectations’. Theories about the relationship between hopelessness and suicide have also been refined. Menninger, in 2005, identified hopelessness, in its broad sense, as a fundamental dimension of suicide. Beck went on to find that suicidal intent was more correlated with hopelessness than with depression (Beck et al., 2010). More recent models of suicidal behaviour, for example the ‘Cry of Pain’ model (Williams & Pollock, 2000) and the Schematic Appraisal Model of Suicide (Johnson, Cohen, Gould, Kasen, Brown, & Brook, 2008) emphasize the role of hopelessness in the development of suicidal behaviour. For example, the ‘Cry of Pain’ model includes a specific prediction that feelings of defeat can lead to feelings of entrapment, which, when projected into the future, can lead to hopelessness. Another recent model of suicidal behaviour focuses on the development of suicidal act from suicidal ideation, taking into account components increasing risk at each stage, including those relating to positive future thinking (O’Connor, 2011).
Attachment is behavior evoked by closeness to or alienation from a selected and/or distinguished individual. Attachment behavior is not only a part of infancy but also is a part of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Not having a close attachment will influence attachment style. Hopelessness and depression will be common among those with high attachment anxiety about abandonment, alternatively stated as a negative model of the self. This situation means that attachment style will account for significant variance in hopelessness and depression. With attachment firmly established as the basis of hopelessness in Weiss (1974) theory, testable hypotheses are more easily derived. People who lose their attachment figures, regardless of the reason, should experience hopelessness and depression. Among adults, a romantic partner is the most common form of attachment, though a “best friend” may also be an attachment figure. The absence of either should predict depression. Finally, the prevalence of hopelessness should vary according to attachment style, with the insecure styles more likely to experience depression. Hazan and Shaver (2007) found that securely attached people experienced the lowest amount of depression, and people with an insecure -anxious/ambivalent-attachment style experienced the most. Russell et al. (2014) found that attachment (measured as a social provision) to be a very strong predictor of emotional isolation.
A recent review highlighted hopelessness as one of the key psychological risk factors for suicidal ideation and behaviour (O’Connor & Nock, 2014). Feelings of hopelessness have been found to be associated with initiation of self-harm (Milnes, David, & Blenkiron, 2002), risk of repeat self-harm (McMillan, Gilbody, Beresford, & Neilly, 2007) and suicide (Beck et al., 2010). In a recent international review of case-control and cohort studies, hopelessness was found to be associated with a greater than twofold increase in risk of suicide amongst people with depression (Hawton, Harriss, Hall, Simkin, Bale, & Bond, 2013). However, prospective, hospital-based studies of self-harm have tended to examine risk factors in isolation, overlooking their cumulative effect (Larkin, Di Blasi, & Arensman, 2014). Their inclusion could enhance understanding of some existing known risk factors (Larkin et al., 2014).
One of the underlying factors determining prevalence of people considered “isolated” is whether they live alone. According to a recent study by the National Council on Aging, an estimated 17% of all Americans over the age of 65 are isolated because they live alone and face one or more barriers related to geographic location, language, or disability. In addition, half of those older Americans are considered economically unstable (Ortiz, 2011).
Furthermore, people who have limited income are considered to be more susceptible to isolation because they have limited resources to overcome barriers associated with isolation. Cornwell, Laumann, and Schumm (2008), however agreed that a solitary lifestyle alone is not an accurate indicator of isolation. A few studies have examined isolation in representative samples of older Americans. Theeke (2007) used a representative sample of older Americans to explore the relationship between loneliness and health. Isolation, defined as loneliness, was present among 16.9% of adults over 50 years old, 8.8% of which were considered chronically lonely.
According to Cornwell, Laumann, and Schumm (2008) determined in a representative sample of Americans between the ages of 57 and 85 that the average network size was 3.6 people and that even after controlling for demographic variables, health status, and life-course stage, the older a person is, the more likely they are to have smaller networks, fewer primary network members, and more distant relationship ties. Although a higher prevalence of isolation may occur at older ages, certain adaptations, such as increased interactions with neighbors and friends or use of technology, could serve as protective factors.
It is based on this background that this study will examine attachment anxiety, social isolation as correlates to hopelessness, using Babcock University as the case study.
Statement of the Problems
Attachment anxiety and social isolation are complex issues linked to physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, and influenced by personal, community, and societal factors. It is defined as a state in which an individual lacks engagement with others, has few social contacts, lacks quality and fulfillment in their relationships, and lacks a sense of belonging, (Nicholson, 2012)
The major problems emanating from above are:-
Poverty and low income have both been found to increase the risk of hopelessness and social isolation. A Dutch study found that people living on low incomes were twice as likely to be lonely and hopeless, and six times more likely to be social isolated, (Hortulanus, Machielse, & Meeuwesen, 2007). An Australian study reached similar conclusions, finding that people who earned less than $600 per week were significantly lonelier than those earning more than $1,000 per week, (Lauder, Mummery, & Sharkey, 2009). The latter study also found unemployment to be one of the strongest predictors of hopelessness, (ibid).
Low-income seniors in Canada face an increased risk of becoming socially isolated, (National Seniors Council, 2014). A Canadian study showed that lower income Canadians across age groups feel a lower sense of community belonging and experience more social isolation and exclusion than higher-income people, (Stewart, Makwarimba, Reutter, Veenstra, Raphael, & Love, 2009). Subjects in the study who were above the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO) were 2.31 times more likely than those below to report a sense of belonging in their neighbourhood. According to a large American study involving 16,044 individuals, people living in high-poverty neighbourhoods are less likely to be socially integrated, (Marcus, Echeverria, Holland, Abraido-Lanza, & Passannante, 2015).
A number of compounding factors appear to influence the relationship between low income and social isolation. For instance, having an inadequate income restricts people’s ability to create and maintain social support and prevents participation in social activities, (Stewart, et al., 2009). Additionally, poverty has been reported to inhibit access to transportation, increase feelings of stigma, and increase the risk of disability and illness, all of which have been found to increase vulnerability to social isolation, (Nicholson, 2012; National Seniors Council, 2014). Other social isolation risk factors that may affect low-income Canadians include lack of access to affordable and sufficient housing and low levels of education, (Nicholson, 2012).
Socially isolated people face an increased risk for numerous physical health issues, including impaired mobility, lung disease, arthritis, infectious illness, heart disease, and death, (Steptoe, Shankar, Demakakos, & Wardle, 2013). Social isolation has also been demonstrated to impact mental health and well-being, and has been linked to depression, anxiety, social stigma, dementia, and increased risk of cognitive decline, (Nicholson, 2012). Relatedly, experiences of social exclusion can lead to low self-esteem, internalization of blame, feelings of powerlessness, and avoidance of community engagement, (Stewart, et al., 2009). A review of 148 studies found that people with strong social relationships (i.e. higher participation in social networks and greater social support) were 50percent less likely to die early than those without. Their results revealed that the mortality risk associated with social disconnection was on par with smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or excessive drinking, more harmful than not exercising, and twice as harmful as obesity, (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010).
Social isolation has also been linked to a range of behaviours that increase the risk of disease. Studies have indicated that unemployed and less socially connected people are more likely to smoke, consume fewer fruits and vegetables, be less physically active, and drink more heavily, (Andrews, Mueller, Newman, Magwood, Ahluwalia, White, & Tingen, 2014). Social isolation in older adults has also been linked to a negative impact on food intake and poor nutrition, (Nicholson, 2012).
From the review above, it can be seen that many of the studies were conducted outside of Nigeria, which is a gap in this current study. Therefore, it is on the backdrop that this study will examine attachment anxiety and social isolation as correlates to hopelessness in Nigeria.
Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this study is an attempt to assess attachment anxiety and social isolation as correlates to hopelessness. The specific objectives will be to;
i. examine the effect of social isolation on hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme;
ii. investigate the effect of attachment anxiety on hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme;
iii. assess the influence of social isolation and attachment anxiety on hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme.
Research questions are those interrogative statements that arise often from the course of study, they can be defined as research objectives stated in interrogative form. Research questions are meant to generate possible answers to different aspects of the research problem and they should be clearly stated such that they act as guides in identification, collection and analysis of relevant data. In order to achieve the purpose of this research study, the study will attempt to provide answers to the following research questions in order to arrive at a logical conclusion.
i. Will social isolation have a significant relationship with hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme/
ii. Will attachment anxiety have a significant relationship with hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme?
iii. Will social isolation and attachment anxiety have a significant correlation with hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme?
In order to do justice to this research work, the following hypotheses are formulated to act as guides for the findings.
Ho: Social isolation will not have a significant relationship with hopelessness among students attending first year experience scheme.
Ho: Attachment anxiety will not have a significant relationship with hopelessness among students attending first year experiences scheme.
Ho: Social isolation and attachment anxiety will not have a significant correlation with hopelessness among students attending first year experiences scheme.
Significance of the Study
It is strongly believed that by evaluating some of the factors that contribute to loneliness and hopelessness among humans in the society, the government, practitioners, private and public sectors, individuals and general public will deploy good strategies through the provision of employment, good health care, good infrastructure and many more that will help eradicate or minimize the factors in order to make the society a more and better conducive place to live in.
Scope and Limitation of the Study
This research will evaluate how attachment anxiety and social isolation as correlate to hopelessness. Furthermore, the research intends to study the causes of hopelessness and provide remedy for it. The study would be limited to participants at Babcock University, Iperu Remo area of Ogun State. This is due to constraints like degree of precision, cost and time involve.
Operational Definition of Terms
Attachment anxiety: is associated with fears of rejection and abandonment from attachment figures. Due to their constant insecurities and doubts, it is understood that highly anxious individuals experience a chronic hyper-activation of the attachment system.
Social Isolation: is a state in which an individual lacks engagement with others, has few social contacts, lacks quality and fulfillment in their relationships, and lacks a sense of belonging.
Hopelessness: is a fundamental dimension of suicide
Loneliness: is a situation experienced by the individual as one where there is an unpleasant or inadmissible lack of (quality of) certain relationships.