Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jeanette Seaberry

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Harrington

Third Advisor

Dr. Elliott Ostler


The purpose of this study was to identify trends in attachment styles and personality traits/disorders in adult male sex offenders. Bartholomew’s (1990) four prototypical attachment style model was used in identifying adult attachment relationship styles. Forty-five men from an inpatient sex offender treatment program were given the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ) and the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ) to measure their style of adult attachment based on Bartholomew ‘s (1990) four theoretical attachment styles. Personality disorders and traits diagnosed through psychological testing upon admission to the hospital were taken from each patients personal record. One hypothesis is used to predict trends in characteristics of adult attachment styles that support characteristics of personality disorders/traits in sex offenders. A frequency distribution was implemented to identify trends and patterns. No consistent trends were identified. Two out of the four attachment prototypes proposed by Bartholomew (1990) include personality disorders/traits consistent with the positive/negative self/other internal working model. The most prominent attachment pattern in this population of sex offenders was the fearful attachment which is representative of a negative view of self and negative view of others. Many who endorsed a fearful attachment were diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder/traits. Preoccupied attached individuals most frequently were diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder/trait. These personality characteristics are in keeping with the four prototype attachment model of negative view of self and positive view of others. Those who endorsed a dismissing attachment style were also diagnosed with avoidant personality as often as dependent personality. This too is in keeping with Bartholomew’s model. Four individuals identified as securely attached. All securely attached individuals received at least one personality disorder/trait diagnosis whose characteristics are not in keeping with the Bartholomew model.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Counseling and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Kim Etherton December, 1997